North Haven Boys’ Lacrosse Building a Foundation with Coach Blood
As Justin Blood stepped into his first season as head coach of the North Haven boys’ lacrosse team, he was looking to build the program’s foundation. During the past week of play, the Nighthawks split a pair of games that gave Coach Blood a sense of where North Haven is going and how much the team has grown this season.
The Nighthawks took a loss to Fairfield Prep before rebounding with an overtime victory versus Hamden last week. North Haven has a record of 4-10 with two games remaining in its regular season.
North Haven started the week with a road game against Fairfield Prep and took a 23-5 defeat on May 9. Junior Jeff Karavas scored 4 of the 5 goals for the Nighthawks in the contest.
Coach Blood knew how difficult North Haven’s competition would be this season. While his team lost to Fairfield Prep, Blood felt that the game gave the Nighthawks a view of the work it takes to turn a program into a Southern Connecticut Conference powerhouse.
“We play in a tough division. The experience level of teams is very high,” Coach Blood said. “We played Fairfield Prep hard. It was a great learning point to where the program is headed. Our goal is to be a high-level Division I SCC team. Sometimes playing a high-caliber team like that is eye-opening.”
Coach Blood knows that building North Haven’s foundation will involve more than just lacrosse. When Blood was in high school, he played for the late Frank Barron as a member of the Branford boys’ lacrosse team. Barron taught Blood that you need to look deeper than the X’s and O’s in order to truly learn the game of lacrosse. As he develops the Nighthawks’ structure, Coach Blood is looking to help every player in the program learn skills that will last beyond high school.
“This season has been focused on building a foundation for the program. They’re the first foundational year of North Haven lacrosse, and that’s something to take pride in,” said Blood. “It’s not just about lacrosse for North Haven. I want to teach principles and lifetime type of leadership skills. What are you going to do after high school? Are you going to work hard, commit fully, and be a leader?”
North Haven finished its week with an away game versus Hamden on May 11. The Nighthawks edged out the Green Dragons by a 7-6 score in overtime to earn their fourth win of the year. Senior captain Jake Hines scored the game-winning goal during the OT period for North Haven.
The Nighthawks had previously defeated Hamden by a 16-3 score earlier in the season. Still, the rematch proved much tougher test than the first meeting, and Blood commended his players for battling until the end to get the victory.
“We beat them the first time, but in lacrosse, teams get better as the season goes on. We expected a hard-nosed battle,” Blood said. “Our guys came out and played very hard the whole game. They never give up. Our work ethic is always there. They were very driven that game. We were very impressed with all of them.”
This season, North Haven is being led by senior captains Hines and Sebastian Derubeis, along with junior captain Michael Masto. All three captains were selected by a team vote after they submitted an essay and gave a speech.
Blood described Hines, who was also a captain on the ice hockey team, as a workhorse on the field. North Haven’s coach added that Derubeis gives every ounce of energy he has and is usually taking on the opposing team’s best defender as a short stick midfielder. Masto is North Haven’s goaltender, and Blood considers him one of the best keepers in the state.
Coach Blood feels each of his captains brings something specific to the table, but added that they all have plenty of similarities between them.
“They are all hardworking. They’re leaders on and off the field,” said Blood. “They’re respectful. They show up on time and they’re committed. They don’t get down on each other. They’re truly leaders in every sense, not just lacrosse.”
As he looks to find his next wave of leaders, Coach Blood wants the Nighthawks to follow the mantra of, “We are One.” A former player, Blood understands that everyone must work together like a well-oiled machine in order for a team to succeed. When North Haven has seen success this season, Blood feels that it was because of that type of positive energy and camaraderie.
“Lacrosse is not an individual sport. When we play as a team, that is when we’re highlighted,” Blood said. “When the team comes together and trusts one another, when we play collectively as a team, that is where we are our strongest. When everybody brings energy for one another, that’s where everything starts to click.”
Year one with Coach Blood is all about the foundation for the North Haven boys’ lacrosse squad. When he is done with construction, Blood has plans for the Nighthawks to be one of the premier teams in the SCC. In order to get there, Blood knows that his players will have to put in the extra work and dedicate themselves to the sport. However, Coach Blood feels that should be no problem for a group of Nighthawks who have already bought in and are determined to take North Haven to the top.
“North Haven was always known as a dominant sports program in all sports. I plan on building it to its maximum potential,” said Blood. “Having our guys do the extra work is where our program is going to be built. The team is fully committed back into lacrosse. Once you have a team fully committed to the program, anything is possible.”
The athletes in the North Haven boys’ lacrosse program are senior captains Sebastian Derubeis and Jake Hines; seniors Osman Ahmetaj, Jared Anderson, Jacob Balga, Anthony Cavalierre, Caden Doheny, Xander Lawless, Aidan Rapuano, Michael Rubiano, Riley Sykes, Zion Teclechiel, and Nick Tondalo; junior captain Michael Masto; juniors Sal DeMaio, Jeff Karavas, Jayesh Komal, Brian Lastomirsky, Mark Ludovico, Nicholas Magro, Chayse Mangino, Mateo Raiano, Joey Taft, and Aiden Touch; sophomores Alex Gaetano, Saleem Khan, Jeremiah Lopez, Yaseen Mahmoud, and Nicholas Richitelli; and freshmen Tyler Dimauro, Jonah Hammarlund, Noah Holt, William Keaney, Jack Marro, Christian Mongillo, Pruthivi Patel, Jake Pieper, Ben Pizzano, Nick Romano, and Cody Vanacore.