Nighthawks Pursuing a Playoff Spot in 2022
With 16 seniors on the roster, North Haven girls’ lacrosse Head Coach Bernie Pellegrino feels confident that the Nighthawks can get back into the Class M State Tournament this year. Along with the postseason goals, Pellegrino said that North Haven is leaning on its seniors to help this year’s team improve every time it steps on the field.
“Everyone came back enthusiastic,” Pellegrino said. “We have big numbers. We filled both fields during our preseason. We’re excited and ready to get back to work.”
North Haven has a record of 1-2 through the first three games of the spring season. The Nighthawks kicked off their campaign by earning a 7-5 road win versus West Haven in their opener on April 2. Last week, North Haven took two defeats by dropping a 16-6 decision at Lauralton Hall on April 5 and then taking a 14-7 home loss against Sheehan two days later.
Senior captain Eliza O’Connor scored 3 goals for North Haven in its matchup with Lauralton Hall. Senior captain Shea Saracino, senior Erin Johns, and fellow senior Ellie Kerzner each had a goal for the Nighthawks. Senior Hannah Sommer and junior Gabriella Barry shared time in net for North Haven.
Senior captain Sophia Dorio scored 3 goals in North Haven’s game against Sheehan, while Saracino had 2 goals in the contest. Kerzner and senior Elizabeth Hansen added 1 goal apiece for the Nighthawks, who received 13 saves from Sommer.
Coach Pellegrino said that North Haven battled hard in each of last week’s matchups. Pellegrino felt that a few small mistakes here and there proved the difference in both outcomes.
“We played hard right to the finish. Unforced errors really hurt us late against Lauralton,” said Pellegrino. “Against Sheehan, we went down 4-0. We started to dig out of the hole and got it within striking distance. We just missed a couple of opportunities to get even.”
North Haven’s senior captains for the 2022 season are Saracino, Dorio, O’Connor, and Riley Minns. Coach Pellegrino said that all four athletes led the team in different ways. However, one thing the captains share is that each one of them has the respect of their coaches and teammates.
“They’re all four-year players. They lead differently,” Pellegrino said. “They’re all liked by their teammates and work hard. They’re able to command the room. They work together well.”
All four captains are major parts of North Haven’s attack. Saracino suffered a season-ending injury during the first game of her junior campaign last year. Now that Saracino is back on the field, Coach Pellegrino feels that the senior is bolstering the Nighthawks with her versatility on offense. Pellegrino added that having an attack led by a quartet of senior captains is a huge asset for his squad.
Next to the captains is sophomore Catherine Bianchi, who earned All-SCC honors for the North Haven field hockey team last fall. Coach Pellegrino said that Bianchi brings plenty of speed to the team and does a great job of moving the ball down the field. Overall, with an experienced cast, Pellegrino is expecting a strong performance from the Nighthawks on the attack this year.
“We’re deep and experienced at attack. It’s good news for us,” said Pellegrino. “If we can stay patient and make the right decisions, there’s no reason why we can’t score every time we have the ball.”
North Haven is a little more inexperienced on defense, although the Nighthawks do have two seniors on that end of the field in Lauren Bogaert and Jenna Pine. Both players saw ample varsity time last year and will be relied upon to lead the Nighthawks’ defensive corps.
North Haven’s defense also features Johns, a senior, along with juniors Ava Huntley and Aisling Pretty and sophomore Kylie Pollard. While they might not be as experienced, Coach Pellegrino said that North Haven has a talented group of defenders and that he’s been impressed with their play thus far.
Sommer is back in net after starting every game for North Haven last year, and Coach Pellegrino said that the senior’s experience is invaluable to the team. Barry and sophomore Abbygail Sochocki are the two other goalkeepers on the Nighthawks’ roster.
Coach Pellegrino is grateful to have 16 seniors on this year’s team. He feels that having so many seniors allowed to Nighthawks to get right into their offseason routine without having to start over. North Haven’s coach added that all of the seniors understand the expectations and know what it will take to succeed.
North Haven’s senior class also includes Emma Aiken, Hayly Caruso, Sophia Chagnon, Emma Kircaldie, Viana Pham, and Grace Santamauro.
“Having 16 seniors is great. We start nine of them and most have played with us for four years. They know the system, the lingo, what we’re trying to do,” Pellegrino said. “We didn’t have to recreate the wheel in spring practice. We could get right into it, and everyone knew where we were going. They’ve all gone through this grind before, and they know what’s expected.”
Coach Pellegrino said North Haven is focused on playing strong defense that translates into offense this spring. He added that his players and starting to believe in themselves and realize that they can be playmakers.
As they continue through their season, the Nighthawks want to get better every day as they pursue a spot in states. With a strong senior presence, Pellegrino believes that this goal can certainly become a reality.
“Our identity is playing good, strong defense and turning it into offense. Otherwise, it’s that everyone can contribute. We’re experienced, we’re talented. Everyone is starting to buy into that and realize that they can start the play or trigger a defensive stop,” said Pellegrino. “Our goal is to play as hard as we can every day and be successful enough to make the state playoffs. I think we can do it. With 16 seniors and a strong attack, we should be able to.”