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Maria Scarano was recently presented with a $500 scholarship from the North Haven Soccer Club for her 11-plus years of dedication to the organization. Maria, who was a senior captain for the high school girls’ soccer squad, is currently attending Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. (Photo courtesy of Maria Scarano )
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Maria Scarano was a senior captain for the Indians’ girls’ soccer squad before graduating from high school this spring. Maria has also been involved with the North Haven Soccer Club (NHSC) for several years and, as a result of her dedication to the club, she was one of two recipients of a $500 scholarship from the NHSC. The annual scholarship is awarded to candidates based on their participation and service to the club, scholastic record, and an essay describing what soccer means to them.
“It was an honor. I felt very honored to be recognized for something like that,” says Maria. “I don’t know what I would’ve done all these years without soccer. It has been a big part of my life, shaping me [and] who I am.”
Maria, who received the award alongside fellow 2016 Indians’ captain Emily Shea, started playing in the NHSC in 2006 and has also served as a coach and referee in the organization. Maria began playing soccer at age six, but unfortunately, knee injuries diminished her minutes on the pitch during her high school career. Maria was happy to get back on the field for her last two seasons, and she contributed to the Indians’ resurgence last fall.
“It started my freshman year. It just started to wear and tear over time, and the cartilage in my knee got worse over time. My sophomore year, I had to make the tough decision to be a manager because of the pain, and I didn’t enjoy it,” Maria says. “I missed the game, so junior year, I was feeling better, then put myself back on the field. My senior year, I wanted nothing more than to be on the field all the time, but it was rough. I couldn’t be a 90-minute player every game because of my knees, but I learned that that is OK. I had to do my best from the sidelines to support the team and the girls.”
North Haven’s Head Coach Rocco Christiana applauds the effort and leadership that Maria provided his team in her junior and senior years.
“She’ll fight. Her heart was bigger than everyone else’s combined. She was my captain with the JV team and then the varsity team. She was like the momma bear of our team,” Christiana says. “She put her heart and soul on the line. Things were tough, and we’d be battling; she’d be out on the field, giving everything she had. Her spirit and focus as a teammate was second to none. It doesn’t get better than Maria.”
Maria was primarily a defender, but had the necessary knowledge of how to play every position on the field. Maria says that helped her transition into coaching with the NHSC.
“It was definitely a great tool, because I feel if I tried to coach after just playing defense, I wouldn’t understand everything. It really helped knowing what each position was like,” says Maria. “I really enjoyed going to my own practices. I was fully immersed in all of it, and it was a great experience that helped me get through [her sophomore season].”
Maria is currently studying to go into elementary education at Sacred Heart University. She feels that coaching youngsters in the NHSC was a driving factor in that career choice.
“It was something that I’ve never experienced before. The fact you can get a player who isn’t the most confident—crying because they’re six years old and don’t want to leave their mom or dad, but they trust you to teach them, and they light up when they can kick a ball—is great,” says Maria. “You see how quickly they pick up drills, and it makes you want to coach them more. At that age, it’s not about winning or losing; it’s about learning, developing, and having the kids be more enthusiastic about the game. North Haven does a good job of that, and I loved being surrounded by that energy.”
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