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Michael Laudano, a 2003 East Haven High School graduate, will be inducted into the East Haven Alumni Association Hall of Fame in November. Michael was a key member of the Yellowjackets’ boys’ soccer squad who helped the team make states for the first time during the 2002 season. (Photo courtesy of Michael Laudano )
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Former Yellowjackets’ boys’ soccer standout Michael Laudano is going to be inducted into the East Haven Alumni Association Hall of Fame later this year. Michael was a four-year soccer and ice hockey player at East Haven who graduated in 2003. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony at Seasons on Sunday, Nov. 24.
“I was very excited when Steve [Narracci] called me. I thought it was a good achievement,” Michael says. “I thought it was a good accolade to add to the collection. I’m honored.”
Michael was a three-time All-SCC Hammonasset First Team selection on the soccer pitch, earning All-State and All-Area honors as a senior. Michael finished his career at East Haven with 33 goals and 22 assists.
“I was generally always faster than everybody on the field. We didn’t have tons of talent, but we needed somebody to put the ball in,” says Michael, an Oakville resident. “Pretty much, our game-plan was to kick the ball over everybody and let me run on to it and do most of the work.”
One of Michael’s coaches, Scott Raffone, says that strategy served the Yellowjackets well, especially during the 2002 season. That year, Michael led East Haven to its first State Tournament berth in program history.
“Michael was one of the best athletes I ever coached. Our team tactics were to defend with 11 and counter with Michael. We won nine games and qualified for the State Tournament for the first time ever at East Haven High School,” Raffone says. “Michael leveled his speed with incredible balance. He was so strong.”
Michael routinely used his speed to his advantage so he could make a break for the goal. Michael really took off during his junior and senior years at East Haven. He also led the Yellowjackets as a captain in those two campaigns.
“I was substantially faster than everybody else, so I just played to my strength,” says Michael. “Soccer is a big field, and there’s a lot of room to move around to get by people. Since I was that much faster, I could take an awkward angle to the goal and still beat them.”
Coach Raffone had Michael focus on working solely with his left foot during practice in order to improve his overall skills on the field. Michael says that tactic changed the trajectory of his high school career.
“In practice, he knew I was good with my right foot, so he made me practice with my left to develop everything else. Now, it didn’t matter what side of the ball I was on,” Michael says. “Noticing I had a weak point was a little bit of an ego blow at first, but the more I started to see results, I started to practice even more. It wasn’t just on the field. I’d dribble at home and go to the park to practice. I knew I wanted to play in college, and those are the things I knew I had to do to be good enough to play there.”
Michael wound up playing soccer for four years at Western Connecticut State University, where he recorded 11 goals to go with 19 assists. As a senior, Michael was selected to the All-Little East Conference First Team.
“I think the All-State accolade put me on the radar for schools. I got offers from Salve Regina, Bryant, Southern, and Western. I didn’t want to go to Rhode Island, so it was stay close to home or go a little further from home,” says Michael. “I chose Western, because I wanted the college experience where I lived in the dorm. Plus, I watched the team before and saw they had some technical players.”
Michael also played left wing for the East Haven ice hockey squad and served as a captain in his senior year. While he saw more success in soccer, Michael says that hockey was actually his favorite sport. In the end, Michael feels excited to be heading to the Hall of Fame and proud about how much he helped East Haven’s soccer program grow throughout his tenure.
“I think it shows a lot of hard work pays off in the end. After graduation, I’m still revered as an influential player for the program. We got to the state playoffs, so knowing I was a part of that, the All-State selections, we were the first people to get recognized for soccer in East Haven. It’s nice to have your name on the banner in the gym after a lot of hard work and dedication,” Michael says. “Hard work always paid off for me in life. I was never one to shy away from anything. I knew what I wanted and what I needed to do to achieve it. I stayed out of trouble, put my head down, and practiced hard.”
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