Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Agudelo Makes a Triumphant Return to the Field


Luis Agudelo feels happy to have returned for his senior season with the East Haven boys’ soccer squad this fall. Photo courtesy of Luis Agudelo

Luis Agudelo feels happy to have returned for his senior season with the East Haven boys’ soccer squad this fall. (Photo courtesy of Luis Agudelo )

Luis Agudelo had to overcome a major obstacle in order to get on the field with the East Haven boys’ soccer team this fall. However, Luis pushed past the setback and is now reunited with the Easties in his senior season.

Luis joined the boys’ soccer team as a freshman and immediately showed potential by earning a starting spot as the Yellowjackets’ center attacking midfielder. Luis scored three goals in his freshman season, although that was the last time he would see the field for a while.

Luis contracted Lyme disease prior to his sophomore year and was forced to sit out both his sophomore and junior seasons with the soccer squad. After missing out on a sport that had played since age seven, Luis knew that he had to do everything he could to get healthy in order to return to the pitch for his final campaign.

“It made me upset. It made me think I was never going to play again or play the same way I did before. But I knew I couldn’t think like that. I knew I had to go through it and bounce back from it,” Luis says. “I got better and took medicine. I felt better and decided I wanted to play my senior year, so I did. I was really nervous, but I came back from it.”

With a clean bill of health, Luis was excited to play his senior year at East Haven. Entering the season, the team hadn’t won a Southern Connecticut Conference game since 2015, but Luis and Easties put an end to that streak with a 3-2 win over Career-Hillhouse on Oct. 6. Luis netted a pair of goals in the victory.

“When I scored the first goal, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was back,” says Luis. “After everything that happened, I knew that now I could do much better. I was going to work hard from it. It was a relief. After that game, I knew I just had to play hard every game and think that every game was my last game.”

This season marks the first time that second-year Head Coach Mike Papantonio has had a chance to work with Luis. However, after seeing the preseason practices and the first half of the regular season, Coach Papantonio knows that East Haven’s offense runs through Luis at the attacking midfielder position.

“Luis is just a talent. He is just one of those kids where you would love to be able to inherit talent like his,” says Papantonio. “Luis has a really good understanding of the game, and he is take-charge kind of kid. He wants the ball, he wants the responsibility. He is extremely aggressive offensively. He is looking to score.”

Luis’s love of soccer stems from his father Edison Orrego, who encouraged Luis to give it a shot. Luis signed up to play soccer with the South Central Premier team when he was seven years old. Now, Luis and his father play together in the Copa Amistad League based in New Haven.

“My dad played soccer his whole life. He always wanted me to be a soccer player. He always loved the game. Every weekend, it would always be soccer,” Luis says. “He wanted me to get really good at it and maybe have a future in it. He wanted me to love it, too. He wanted me to be good, and I wanted to make him proud.”

Luis is hoping to play soccer in college after he graduates from East Haven. Luis has been in contact with several schools, including Albertus Magnus, as he searches for the best opportunity to continue his career.

From the moment he stepped on the field, Luis knew that soccer was a sport that he “was going to do forever.” After battling back from an illness, Luis has now become the focal point of East Haven’s offense in his senior season. As he reflects upon his journey, Luis wants athletes to know that they should enjoy every moment they’re out there competing, because it can all go away in an instant.

“It means a lot, just saying that I’m a soccer player,” says Luis. “You have to enjoy the sport while you’re able to play. Don’t take it for granted. Always play at your best, because you never know when the last game comes.”

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