By Ryan Spitz
HAMDEN, Oct. 11 -- Green Farms Academy came dressed in all white road uniforms on a perfect autumn day at Hamden Hall Country Day's Beckerman Athletic Center. However, a more appropriate attire might have been all black, as the team attended a funeral for Hamden Hall’s hopes and dreams of a victory from the opening minutes.
When the last shovel of dirt had been emptied, the defending state champion Dragons left with a 5-2 win.
“Green Farms (6-3-1) is one of the more experienced teams in the league,” Hamden Hall coach Douglas Cunningham said. “We competed well today and fought back, but overall the score was 5-2 and it wasn’t enough.”
The Hornets (1-5) were outmanned and undersized compared to the well skilled and organized Dragons. This showed as early as the five minutes into the game as the Dragons' sophomore midfielder Charlie Benson came up with the ball off a deflected corner kick and lofted a pass over the middle of the box to sophomore striker Kyle Merzon, who stuck the ball into the back right corner of the net for the game’s first goal.
Continuing their dominant play, the Dragons came right back two minutes later and scored off a penalty kick from senior striker Ian Lee.
Lee, an experienced player and a part of the Dragons’ 2016 Connecticut Prep Class S Championship team, took advantage of poor positioning and inexperience from the Hornets’ freshman centerback Johar Varma to draw the penalty shot.
Varma’s and the team’s overall inexperience played a major role in the team’s poor first half performance.
“We are so inexperienced that we go into games tentative in the first half, and always look to counterpunch and against good teams we can’t do that,” Cunningham said.
Despite a possession battle in the midfield that consumed the rest of the first half, the Dragons tacked on one more goal on before halftime when a lofted pass in the open field beat Varma and landed perfectly on the toes of the Dragons’ senior striker Nick Attai, who knocked it past Hornets’ senior goalkeeper Trevor Baer.
With a dominant first half, the Dragons did not seem to take the pressure off as they added another goal three minutes in from Merzon again. Merzon received a through pass, from Benson, that found its way past the Hornets’ defensive line right onto Merzon’s foot, allowing him to tap it past Baer for a goal.
The exciting offensive performance early on was a good sign for the Dragons , who were looking for a break-out performance on that end of the pitch.
“We’ve been trying to get to this point, because the seniors we lost last year we basically our whole offense,” Green Farms Academy head coach Chris Mira said. “We’ve kept a solid defense and midfield and now the offense is finally there.”
However, with minimal time remaining, the pace of the game changed and the Hornets began to take over offensively.
The Hornets’ senior striker Donte Berberna scored two late goals and another off of a rebound allowed by Dragons senior goalie Henry Holzinger.
However, the Dragons tacked on a late goal making the final score 5-2 and complete the blowout.
“Our defense did not let Hamden Hall get into a rhythm and we controlled the midfield,” Mira said. “This allowed our offense to create chances, and I honestly thought we could have scored even more goals today.”
The Hornets look to rebound in their next game against Chase Collegiate on Friday, while the Dragons hope to continue their momentum Friday against The Masters School.
By Randy Del Valle
HAMDEN, Oct. 10 – Hamden High striker Emmanuel Yeboah scored three goals to lead the Green Dragons to a 4-1 win over Lyman Hall. After losing to the Trojans 5-2 in September, Hamden finally got revenge on Lyman on Tuesday in a non-league bout.
Hamden improved to 5-4-3 on the year, while Lyman Hall (6-4-1) lost its second game in a row.
Yeboah got his first goal in the final minute of the first half when he dribbled by defenders, crossing them up, before taking the shot that went in. It gave Hamden a 2-0 lead.
He scored two more times in the second half.
With 11 minutes to play, Yeboah completed the hat trick, scoring his third goal by getting by two defenders. He took the shot left of the net and the ball went under the legs of one defender going into the net.
“I feel really happy, because I wanted to help the team so that we could move forward and win trophies and win states,” Yeboah said after the game.
Hamden assistant coach Matt Gilmore said, “He’s a fantastic player, he’s just so composed. Today he got the goals, which is something that will be great for his confidence and he just played really well."
It was a physical first half as the teams combined for 12 fouls, including three yellow cards. The first yellow card happened in the 18th minute of the match when Lyman Hall defender Sabastian Gonzalez slid and tripped Yeboah inside the box on a breakaway.
Jordan Pattavina took the penalty shot. He ran and hit the ball, shooting it to the left aimed at the net. Goalkeeper Andrew Mastroianni dived to the left going for the save, but failed to make the save as the ball just got by Mastroianni for a goal. Hamden High took the lead 1-0 midway through the first half.
Hamden dominated Lyman Hall in the first half taking 13 shots with seven of the shots on goal.
The Trojans had no answer to the Green Dragons attack as Yeboah and Pattavina took repeated shots at Mastroianni.
Gilmore thought the team was much more prepared for Lyman Hall this time around.
“We came into this game with the mentality that we had to win it, I think we were a bit too complacent going into that early game and being prepared, wanting a little bit more in this game.” Gilmore said.
Lyman Hall head coach Arnie Jandreau thought his team’s injuries and shot selections were two key reasons why it struggled this time against Hamden High.
“We have three defenders hurt right now and it’s a huge difference right now. I had one of them that didn’t even play at all,” Jandreau said. “We tried to shoot the ball too far outside and the guys their heads were down on the ball, they weren’t just going through the space.”
Next up for Hamden High they face off against Notre Dame at 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 13, looking to extend its winning streak to three games. Lyman will play Foran on Friday.
By Scott De Bell
HAMDEN, Oct. 5 -- The Hamden High Green Dragons (4-4-3) had many goals at the start of the season, but making the postseason was at the top of that list. With their 4-1 win over Sheehan, they are closer to that goal. Hamden defeated the Sheehan Titans 4-1 on Thursday afternoon. With the victory the Green Dragons are getting closer to earning a postseason bid.
Coming off a 3-0 loss to Hand in its previous game, Hamden (4-4-3) could not have asked for a better start to the game. Four minutes in, senior forward Emmanuel Yeboah used strong defensive pressure to find his own offense. He caused a turnover from the Sheehan defense and scored into the bottom left corner of the goal. This put the Green Dragons up 1-0 and they never looked back.
Hamden scored two more goals -- one by Yeboah, the other by senior midfielder Jordan Pattavina -- and found itself 3-0 up within the first 10 minutes of the game.
Even though the Green Dragons dominated the game early, head coach Ralph Romano complimented Sheehan (1-7-1) on its fight for the rest of the game.
“Anytime you get a goal in the first couple of minutes it changes the mentality of the other team, sometimes you can put your head down and go through the motions for the rest of the game, but I feel that they really didn’t do that,” said Romano.
Sheehan answered with good chances to score not just after the first 10 minutes, but also throughout the rest of the game. The team found success through set pieces, which set up a couple of solid chances to score.
“We had ample opportunities. We missed a penalty kick, and we missed two clear chances in the first half,” Sheehan head coach Lou Rodriguez said. “We stress free kicks a lot, we put at least 15-20 minutes over the course of a practice, so we do practice it a lot.”
Hamden senior goalkeeper Marcus Anthony Carrington attempted to defend those set pieces from Sheehan. He says that the way they set up for them is what makes them tough to defend.
“They had three or four players on me and it’s kind of tough because you can’t move, and we also had people marking them and that was even harder for me, but we were able to fight through it and keep a clean sheet in the first half,” Carrington said.
Hamden has an important stretch of games coming up in the next couple of weeks. Three games against three league teams can be the difference between receiving a bid to the postseason and not receiving one. Carrington said that if the Green Dragons play their game, they will be in a good position to reach their initial goal.
“We can beat any team but we just have to put our mind to it, play well, play our game,” Carrington said.
Hamden continues its push towards the postseason against Lyman Hall at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 10. Sheehan continues its season at 3:45 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 10.
By Cliff Nadel
NORTH HAVEN, Oct. 4 -- Under the lights at the North Haven Athletic Complex, North Haven High exploded out of the gates early and scored three quick goals in the first seven minutes of the game to beat another struggling side Amistad, 8-0.
At the start of the season, North Haven coach Reid Chieffo, replaced long-time coach Federico Fiondella, who coached the Indians for 16 years.
After a disappointing one-win effort in Fiondella's last season, Chieffo wanted to change the culture into one that saw a more attacking and exciting squad.
“We implemented a whole new system, different formation, a different style of play then what their used to, it’s a little bit more of an open offensive game,” Chieffo said, “so I think for players it’s a little bit more exciting to play as opposed to being very disciplined defensively.”
The Indians (2-6, 1-3 in league) struggled to get shots on goal and averaged only 3.7 shots on goal per game in their first seven games.
North Haven also averaged about 12.4 shots on goal allowed.
Since Chieffo has instituted a more attacking style of play, in the days leading up to their game against winless Amistad (0-7-1), the team worked on various attacking techniques while still also being conscious defensively.
North Haven played the exact opposite way one would expect a 1-6 team to play and dominated the possession game early on and throughout most of the game. The Indians looked energized in warmups and were excited to face a struggling Amistad squad.
Chieffo said after the game that his team was fired up to play against another struggling side.
“Since they're struggling I think the team gets a little bit more fired up, they're a little bit more aggressive and you want to see them come out like that against all teams,” he said.
North Haven started the game with constant offensive pressure and had a shot deflect off the post within the first minute of the game. Only a minute later the Indians set up a counter attack after intercepting an Amistad goal kick and sent several of their wide men and backs forward.
Freshman wide man Kasey Mongillo used his blistering pace to beat several Amistad defenders and received a cross, which left him one-on-one with the Amistad goalkeeper. Mongillo slightly hesitated and pulled the ball back for a second, before powering the ball with his right foot between the goalkeeper’s legs and into the bottom right corner of the goal.
A few minutes, North Haven continued its early offensive pressure and were given a direct set piece opportunity after they were fouled right outside the box. Sophomore striker Jose Rodriguez stepped confidently up to take the free kick and showed the crowd what hours and hours of free kick practice can yield.
“Everyone was distracted over there, so I just took the chance and just shot it,” Rodriguez said. He added that he practices his free kicks almost every day and shows up an hour early to practice so he can work on his technique.
Rodriguez struck the ball over the Amistad defense, scoring a goal into the top left corner of the goal.
Within a few minutes of Rodriguez’s free kick goal, North Haven again found itself deep in Amistad’s defensive half.
North Haven got several attackers in the box and peppered Amistad with shot after shot. After Amistad thought it cleared the ball, the team sent it right to Indians sophomore Kasper Skonieczny. Skonieczny controlled the attempted cleared ball right outside the box before striking the ball from outside the box into the top left corner of the goal.
The Indians got their fourth goal just before half time.
Skonieczny scored his second goal of the game in the second half along with three other goals.
North Haven looks to take their energy and momentum from this game and hopes to make a serious state playoffs push in the coming weeks, Cheiffo said.
North Haven’s next game is at 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6 against Wilbur Cross.
Students in Quinnipiac University's JRN361: Sports Reporting course cover local high school sports competitions. Their work is showcased here.
Banner photo courtesy
Dana Jensen/The Day (2003)