Saturday, July 24, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Sanchez Building Foundation for Future Soccer Success


Senior captain Alejandro Sanchez wants to create a solid foundation that can benefit the East Haven boys’ soccer team for years after he graduates from high school. Photo courtesy of Alejandro Sanchez

Senior captain Alejandro Sanchez wants to create a solid foundation that can benefit the East Haven boys’ soccer team for years after he graduates from high school. (Photo courtesy of Alejandro Sanchez)

Senior captain Alejandro Sanchez feels proud about the fight that the East Haven boys’ soccer team is showing this season. Even though the Yellowjackets have struggled in recent years, Alejandro believes that his teammates are displaying the types of traits that will help East Haven become a more competitive club in future campaigns.

“The team is wonderful in that we don’t give up. Not one player is like, ‘No, I’m not playing.’ Every player shows up committed and wants to better themselves,” Alejandro says. “Change is coming, but it’s coming slowly. We knew things weren’t going to change too much this year, but we can start the change and, hopefully, progress for the kids that are the future of this team.”

Alejandro has learned how to be a leader while serving as a captain for the Yellowjackets throughout the last few months. Alejandro likes how he’s looked upon to help mold the future of the program in his captain’s role.

“I love the role,” says Alejandro. “It’s an honor to be in that position. I can help my teammates and set an example for all the younger players.”

Head Coach Mike Papantonio says that Alejandro isn’t necessarily the loudest guy on the field. However, Papantonio knows that the senior captain’s attitude and work ethic are having a positive effect on everyone on the squad.

“Alejandro is a lead-by-example guy that does the little things well. He works hard in practice and definitely helps the younger guys,” Coach Papantonio says. “I find he’s done a good job of encouraging and motivating his teammates, staying positive, and encouraging the kids to work hard.”

Alejandro started playing soccer at age five and was primarily a forward while growing up. After playing forward for the high school team his first three years, Alejandro made the move to center midfielder as a senior this season.

“When I played center forward, I was strictly offensive and wasn’t involved in the play much. So, I talked to coach about moving to midfield, and that’s the position I prefer now,” says Alejandro. “I’m more involved on both offense and defense now.”

Alejandro came across some challenges while switching positions on the pitch. The biggest adjustment for him was learning more about the defensive side of the game.

“It was challenging at first, but I picked it up eventually. This preseason, we worked more on defensive training, and that really helped me,” Alejandro says. “Now, I help clear the ball up the field and hope to create chances for my teammates to score.”

Coach Papantonio says that Alejandro is still an integral piece of East Haven’s attack at the midfielder’s position. The Yellowjackets rely on Alejandro to build up the Yellowjackets’ offensive pressure, take on defenders, and distribute the ball in order to create scoring opportunities.

Alejandro was rewarded for his effort when he scored the first goal of his team’s season during East Haven’s 4-0 victory over North Branford on Oct. 8. Alejandro lined up for a penalty kick and drove it home for the goal.

“It was such a nervous feeling. When I scored, it was such a relief since we hadn’t scored all season,” says Alejandro. “After that goal and that game, it was such a relief.”

As the 2019 campaign nears its conclusion, Alejandro is going to keep working hard to help the Easties get another victory, while continuing to develop a foundation that can help the program for years to come.

“Hopefully, we get another win,” Alejandro says. “That’s the ultimate goal. More wins and more goals would be an improvement from last season.”

PJ Foti covers sports for East Haven and North Branford for Zip06. Email PJ at

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