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Junior Chris Damone uses his speed on defense to help keep the ball out of the net as a member of the North Haven boys’ soccer squad. (Photo courtesy of Chris Damone )
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Junior Chris Damone proved a key player on defense for the North Haven boys’ soccer team this fall. The Indians went through a rebuilding season with first-year Head Coach Reid Chieffo, but they played better as the campaign progressed, and the performance of Chris and his fellow defenders played a huge role in that improvement.
“This year was tough with a new coach. It was a rebuilding year to see how the team works. Next year will be more progress and more successful,” says Chris. “I like to see the whole field in front of me, and I get a sense of gratification when stopping a goal. If you score, everybody sees it, but a lot of the play happens on defense, and I like to be a part of that.”
Chris has been a defender since he first started with soccer and played both center back and right back in North Haven’s 4-3-3 formation this season. When he was on the outside, Chris saw plenty of success flanking the opposition to create chances on the offensive end for Coach Chieffo’s club.
“Chris is a real versatile player along the back line. We were thinking of getting him into the midfield, but we struggled defensively without him. He has explosive speed, can cover a lot of ground, and make up for any mistakes that other players make. He covers well with his speed,” Cheiffo says. “I like to get him on the outside, because it allows him to get up the field to get some crosses in and wreak some havoc in the offensive end. We were having some trouble in the middle of the year, so we moved him to center back so he could provide more coverage and be in every play to make an impact defensively. He added a lot of speed in the middle for us.”
Chieffo says that he loves Chris’s approach to the game. Chris brings the same level of intensity to both games and practices, and that elevates the play of those around him.
“I put all my effort on the field in practices and games. I try to be more like a team leader every day,” he says. “I put a lot of effort in every game and leave it on the field. I feel like I have a high soccer IQ and use that to get myself into good areas.”
Cheiffo describes Chris as a soft-spoken athlete, but adds that Chris’s teammates respond well to the example he sets by giving a great effort every single day.
“He’s an unsung hero on the team. He doesn’t say much, but gives 100 percent in practices and in games. He works just as hard in practices. Some kids may take practices lightly, but not Chris. He practices just as hard as he plays,” says Cheiffo. “To have a kid like Chris, you’ll be in every game. He plays a vital role. He’s in the trenches doing the dirty work, covering for that back line.”
Chris has been a part of North Haven’s varsity squad since his freshman year and is looking to be a big leader on the team in his senior season. In the final game of his junior campaign, Chris and the Indians claimed a 2-1 victory versus Valley Regional on Senior Night.
“It’s definitely a scary thing when going against 18- and 19-year-olds when you’re 14, but that gave me the confidence I have now to feel like one of our leaders out there,” says Chris. “It’s definitely a big responsibility. We came out with a win [against Valley], so I’m hoping that shows how we’ll do next year.”
Chris wants to be a little more vocal as a senior next fall, while continuing to bring the same stabilizing presence to the Indians’ defense.
“I’m not the most vocal person, but I’ve been getting better at it,” says Chris. “When I’m on the field I’m a presence in the back. Everyone feels reassured that I’m back there.”
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