BY HANNAH COTTER
NORTH HAVEN, Oct. 6 -- The brisk October air did not stop a crowd of super fans from supporting its home team at the North Haven Athletics Complex on Monday night, and its morale was high despite the North Haven High Indians suffering a 3-0 loss to the Branford Hornets in a non-conference matchup.
The Indians (5-2-2, 3-1 SCC) started off strong, applying pressure to the Hornets (3-4-2) early on. They kept the ball in the offensive zone in a back-and-forth first half.
The Indians had a close chance with seven minutes left in the half with an empty net, but Branford’s defense stepped in and remained strong throughout the remainder of the game.
“This is our first loss that’s been more than one goal,” North Haven head coach Rocco Christiana said, “and we’ve held in there with all the top teams and only lost by one. We still have a lot of the season left.”
With 2:09 left in the game, North Haven’s Camille Sahirul took a blow to her left knee and slowly collapsed as her team gathered around. Moments before, the junior striker had one of the team’s closest scoring opportunities. The crowd had erupted as she slipped past Branford defenders but shot wide.
Despite the injury, Christiana still feels confident in the team.
“We’ve had a good season. Last year we had quite a few injuries. Our star players last year -- there was always at least two or three of them on the bench,” he said.
“We’ve stayed healthy. We’ve got a deep bench. We’ve got a lot of good quality players and it has kept us in a lot of games.”
Earlier in the second half, Sahirul had another chance to schore but Branford’s goalkeeper, senior Nina Grabowiecki, made an impressive save. It wouldn’t be her last. Grabowiecki made three huge saves in the final minutes, securing her team’s success against a typically high scoring team.
An Alayna Boileau goal late in the first put Branford on the scoreboard to go into the half 1-0. The Hornets scored twice early in the second, but the Indians fought hard into the final seconds of regulation.
“It was a great game,” Christiana said. “I just think Branford did a really good job. They stepped up and they took advantage of our mistakes. That’s just soccer. Sometimes it falls our way and sometimes it falls their way.”
Even as the clock reached the final five seconds, in the sea of red, white and maroon in the bleachers, all eyes were on the field.
“With a great coach and a great staff,” Christiana added, “Branford came to play and they deserved to win.”
The last time the Indians and Hornets met, the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
North Haven sits in first place in the SCC Housatonic standings. Up next, the Indians travel to Wallingford to take on Lyman Hall for another non-conference game at 3:45 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6.
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)