Sports Person of the Week
Sanzari Reaches Great Heights as North Haven’s Goalie
Angela Sanzari held things down in net for the past three seasons as the starting goalkeeper for the North Haven girls’ soccer team. Angela won the Indians’ MVP Award for her sophomore and junior seasons and helped North Haven make the State Tournament in each of her final two years with the team. (Photo courtesy of Chris Kirby)
Angela Sanzari is going to continue her soccer career at Division III Lasell College in Newtown, Massachusetts next fall. Angela thanks her family and teammates for their support through the years, along with North Haven High School girls’ soccer Head Coach Rocco Christiana and his fellow coaches on the Indians’ staff, in addition to North Haven Middle School girls’ soccer coach Brent Heidenis, high school indoor track coach Marc Celmer, her personal goalie coach Paul Dellostrieto, and the people at Ranfone Training Systems in Hamden. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)
Angela Sanzari is kind of on the short side as far as high school soccer goalies go, but she stood tall in net and rose to occasion many times for the Indians throughout the past few seasons.
At 5-foot-1, Angela is shorter than most of the goalies North Haven went up against during her three-year tenure as the team’s starting keeper. However, Angela never used that as an excuse. Instead, she put in tons of time to improve her skillset in the net, including her jumping abilities, and that extra effort resulted a fruitful high school career. Angela was named North Haven’s Most Valuable Player in her sophomore year, earned that honor again while helping the Indians return to the State Tournament as a junior, and then captained the team in a recent senior season that featured another state tourney berth.
“Even though she’s only 5-1, Angela’s shoes will be huge to fill,” says Head Coach Rocco Christiana.
Angela is one of five siblings to come through the North Haven soccer family, so she’s been playing the sport for several years now, having first stepped in the net at age nine. While moving through the ranks in town, Angela has also sharpened her skills by playing against top-tier competition at the Premier level for the past five years. On top of that, she’s learned a lot about how to play goalie as a result of working with her personal coach, Paul Dellostrieto.
However, even with this tremendous level of dedication, nothing was going to change the fact that Angela “stopped growing in the 7th grade,” and so that’s why she went to Ranfone Training Systems in Hamden this spring.
“They sat down with me and said, ‘What do you need?’ I said, ‘I need to be able to jump,’ and I was there five days a week in the summer to build muscle to get up there and save shots,” Angela says. “All the hours off the actual field is what helped me. I was voluntarily doing double and triple sessions myself this summer. Between practice with Paul, the gym, and my captains’ practices, I was really doing nothing but working out to prepare for the season, because I wanted it to be as successful as it could be.”
Angela went from posting one shutout in her junior season to recording four shutouts as a senior. Angela always felt motivated to prove the opposition wrong if she thought they were underestimating her, and says it was a great feeling whenever she’d rise up to stop a shot that seemed destined to find twine.
“It’s nice being the underdog. I know I get underestimated often when it’s obvious I’m the goalie because I have a different shirt on, and they say, ‘Shoot high. She’s short.’ Saving the ones up there are some of the best feelings I’ve had during games. It’s something I know I wouldn’t be able to do without all that hard work. It really pays off,” Angela says. “I got MVP my sophomore and junior years for the high school team, so just putting it in perspective, the fact that I’m so small and had to work so hard to get that award really helps me feel like I’m not only bettering myself, but the team as a whole.”
As a team, North Haven only won two games during Angela’s first varsity season in 2015, but progressed to get six victories last year, and then finished with seven wins this year, while qualifying for the Class L State Tournament in both campaigns. Angela says it means the world to her to know she’s played a pivotal role in helping the Indians get back on their feet again with consecutive playoff bids.
“It’s very rewarding to know I was a part of it...I’m excited to see how they progress after I leave. I want nothing but success for the girls in the future,” says Angela, who also runs the 600 for North Haven’s girls’ indoor track team. “I hope we keep doing better, and the girls have the potential to keep doing that. My best hopes are that they will, and it will be great to be able to say that I was on that first team that started that uphill trend. That’s something that will stick with me. I’ve never been part of a change that big, and it’s in something I care so much about. Soccer is my world, and to be part of something with so much positive change is really rewarding.”
Coach Christiana says that Angela had an immense impact on North Haven’s recent reversal by showing no fear in goal, while bringing an all-around exemplary attitude to the squad.
“Angela is dedicated, committed, hardworking—just a true leader. She has always been a role model and a positive force for the team. She is a great student, a great person, and a great teammate,” Christiana says. “Angela is a fearless keeper who will put her body on the line for her team. We used to get scored on quite a bit, but in the past two years...she has been one of the biggest factors that’s kept us in games. She’s constantly talking and is always positive. She’s like my on-the-field coach.”
Angela has also worked alongside her oldest sister Maria, who played net for North Haven and is now the Indians’ goalkeeper coach. Maria went on to play soccer at Manhattan College, while Angela’s sisters Lisa and Christina played for Western Connecticut State University and Skidmore College, respectively. Next year, Angela will continue her soccer career when she suits up for Division III Lasell College in Newtown, Massachusetts.
“My siblings’ best friends are all from their teams in college, and there are girls on teams that I’ve been friends with my entire life, and I can’t imagine not playing, not having those teammates and friends, and not being on a team,” Angela says. “When I went on my overnight visit, the players on the team told me that when you show up in camp, you automatically have 30 friends, and that’s big for me. You have to be a special person to be a college athlete with managing your time between school and sports, and those are the people I want to be around in college.”