North Haven Girls’ Lacrosse Keeps Heading in the Right Direction
The North Haven girls’ lacrosse program took a big step toward achieving its long-term goals during the 2022 season. On the heels of a campaign where the team earned just one win, the Nighthawks adopted a new mindset with a deep class of seniors and finished the year with five victories. While his team was unable to make the playoffs, Head Coach Bernie Pellegrino and his athletes had a lot of fun and enjoyed the experience of competing this spring.
North Haven started its season on a high note by claiming a 7-5 win versus West Haven in its opener. One week later, the Nighthawks defeated Branford for the first time in program history with an 11-10 victory over the Hornets. Senior captains Riley Minns, Sophia Dorio, and Shea Saracino scored 3 goals apiece, while senior goalkeeper Hannah Sommer made 11 saves in the victory.
Coach Pellegrino felt that the Branford game marked one of the high points of his team’s season. The Nighthawks went through a difficult stretch of competition following that contest, although Pellegrino never saw his players back down against anyone.
“We did struggle in the middle of the year. We hit a rough road in our schedule, but we never gave up. Our kids played hard during that stretch the whole time, and the senior leadership helped there,” Coach Pellegrino said. “They talked to their teammates and kept them up during that rough road in the schedule. We knew that the end of the schedule provided us with better opportunities to be successful, so they just toughed it out during that part.”
On April 30, North Haven played a road game against Berlin and notched a 14-13 win in a back-and-forth matchup. Sommer made a whopping total of 21 saves to help the Nighthawks prevail. Saracino netted 7 goals, and senior Eliza O’Connor scored 5 goals in the victory. Coach Pellegrino called that win the most notable moment of North Haven’s campaign.
“It was a pretty evenly matched game, and it was a barnburner all the way through. We all thought that was the most memorable game of the year,” said Pellegrino. “We took the kids on the bus to Dairy Queen afterwards for some ice cream. It was just a fun day.”
Although they didn’t post as many wins as they had hoped for, the Nighthawks still battled hard in every game this season, even when they were trailing. On May 12, North Haven took a 16-3 defeat versus Amity, but Coach Pellegrino felt that his club put together one of its best performances of the year during the first half of that contest.
“We played them on their Senior Night at home, and it was probably the best task of our season. We really gave them a run for their money in the first half,” Pellegrino said. “I think they were on their heels a little bit, and our guys really came out and played tough. That first half against Amity was a highlight for all of us.”
North Haven wound up finishing the 2022 season with an overall record of 5-11. Coach Pellegrino was happy that the Nighthawks increased their win total from last year and also felt pleased to see the JV team enjoy a successful season.
“Last year, we won one game and, this year, we won five, so we definitely improved. We saw improvement in all of our players,” said Pellegrino. “We had a great JV season, which is a great sign for next season. Seeing how those younger players played and developed as part of our JV was also a good sign for us.”
One of the biggest success stories of North Haven’s campaign was the performance of senior captain Saracino, who Coach Pellegrino called the heart and soul of the squad. After missing her entire junior season due to a significant injury, Saracino brought her talents back to the field in a big way this year. Saracino led the Nighthawks with 48 goals on the season, earning All-SCC Second Team honors. The recent graduate has committed to play Division I lacrosse at Campbell University next year.
North Haven’s senior class featured 14 athletes, four of which were the captains Saracino, Dorio, O’Connor, and Minns. O’Connor scored 29 goals for the Nighthawks, while Dorio had 23 goals on the year. Sommer, the starting goalie, averaged 12 saves per game in net.
Fellow seniors Jenna Pine, Erin Johns, Lauren Bogaert, and Emma Kircaldie anchored North Haven’s defense throughout the season. The team’s senior class also featured Emma Aiken, Sophia Chagnon, Liz Hansen, Ellie Kerzner, and Viana Pham. Coach Pellegrino felt that the leadership his seniors provided for the Nighthawks helped make the season a success.
“We had a successful season. I think we were all happy with the way the season went,” Pellegrino said. “We talked about being a better team when we walk off of the field than when we came onto the field, and I think we did. We got better every day.”
With the seniors moving on, Coach Pellegrino is excited to see the new leaders of the Nighthawks step up for the 2023 season. Pellegrino is anticipating that Gabby Barry will take the reins as North Haven’s goalie, and he’s also eager to see how fellow soon-to-be-seniors Sarah Herrera, Aisling Pretty, and Ava Huntley will lead the team as its captains. On top of that, Pellegrino said that the Nighthawks will be returning a solid junior corps to the field.
“Next year’s junior class is a really talented, young group. It’s a really deep class. I’m excited to see what that group can bring to us and their ability to step up and take a role as starters,” said Pellegrino. “I’m looking forward to our seniors stepping into the leadership role and a large talented junior class to kind of complement them. I think it’s going to be kind of fun. It will be exciting.”
As he looks ahead to next year, Coach Pellegrino expresses tremendous gratitude to the Nighthawks’ Class of 2022. Pellegrino applauds the sacrifices that those athletes made for the team and will always cherish the memory of having them as valuable members of the program.
“They brought experience, leadership, emotion, stability, and a desire to help the younger guys. Their willingness to support, teach, and help them was unbelievable,” Pellegrino said. “It was a great class. I can’t say enough about what they meant to us this year and how much we’re going to miss them next year.”
The North Haven girls’ lacrosse roster team’s roster features senior captains Shea Saracino, Riley Minns, Eliza O’Connor, and Sophia Dorio; seniors Emma Aiken, Lauren Bogaert, Sophia Chagnon, Erin Johns, Liz Hansen, Ellie Kerzner, Emma Kircaldie, Viana Pham, Jenna Pine, and Hannah Sommer; juniors Ava Huntley, Gabby Barry, Theresa Consorte, Sarah Herrera, Chloe Panaroni, and Aisling Pretty; sophomores Emma Baichulall, Catherine Bianchi, Ava Chagnon, Nola Coyle, Paloma Garcia, Mallika Gazzarapu, Madisen Karavas, Grace Martin, Sydney Pitcher, Kylie Pollard, Ava Salzano, and Abbygail Sochocki; and freshmen Aubrey Bessette, Clare Cullagh, Gianna Fasula, Olivia Halovatch, Emma Kwieraga, Emily Ludovico, Molly Martin, Ava Prefontaine, Amelia Raposo, Seniha Saribasak, Emily Shea, Sienna Vecchio, and Chloe Vogel.