Xavier coach Scott Basile knew his team had a lot of potential entering this season.
After a tough, 6-5 season-opening overtime loss to Fairfield Ludlowe — currently ranked sixth in the Register Top 10 Poll — Xavier has reeled off eight straight wins.
Thanks to the winning streak, No. 9 Xavier cracked the Top 10 poll for the first time this season.
“Our team is very close and I knew it had the potential to do just that, start strong,” Basile said. “Our defense was our weak spot coming into the season with a lot of losses to graduation. Our captain, Jameson Kief, has been a huge help on defense, especially getting the younger guys to play together. Our senior goalie Zack O’Dell has been big in net too, averaging 12-plus saves a game. Short-stick defender Owen Gonzalez has been a force for us on ground balls and guarding the midfield.”
Midfielder John Ford and attackmen Wes Reid and Collin O’Donnell are among the top scorers.
“Coming in, we hoped offense would be our bright spot,” Basile said. “John Ford and Wes Reid are our leaders and Collin O’Donnell is also scoring lots of goals at attack from the left wing. (Twins) Austin Reid and Brett Reid play great with their brother, Wes, off the ball and they finish well. Collin McCarthy is a sophomore and leads the dodging from the midfield.”
The first-half success has the Falcons focused on securing a good seed for the very tough Class L state tournament.
“Our hope is to qualify for the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament, make it to the SCC finals and see what happens,” Basile said. “We also hope to grab a good seed in the tournament.”
Green Knights also streaking
After starting the season 2-2, Notre Dame-West Haven has been rolling with four straight wins. The solid start hasn’t surprised any of the Green Knights.
“We have a great group of guys who have really dedicated themselves, starting this past offseason,” Notre Dame coach A.J. Alessi said. “We have a good core of seniors and some underclassmen who have stepped up and played a key role for us. We are athletic and deep, especially in the midfield. We’ve been able to wear teams down in the second half.”
Alessi said the team’s success begins with its experienced players.
“(Our senior class has) done a great job of leading this team,” Alessi said. “Our two captains have been able to take over games for us. Eduardo Palmieri has been a game changer on defense and in transition. Joe Palmieri has been great on face-offs and on offense.”
The Green Knights have outscored opponents 62-17 during their four-game win streak.
“We have had good balance on offense and a lot of guys have been contributing as of late,” Alessi said. “Joe Biondi has been the leader on offense and guys like Nico Ragaini, Zach Tomaszek and Tyler DeLaurentis, among others, have been playing well.
“Ed Moran has returned from an injury and has been scoring at an extremely high rate. We will be getting an additional boost this week when Dylan Penna returns from his injury. Our starting goalie, John Brunetti, has been great ever since he returned from a broken thumb. Geno Pagliaro did very well filling in for him in the beginning of the season.”
Alessi hopes the team’s momentum carries into the second half, especially as Notre Dame approaches a difficult stretch.
“The guys have bought in to the system and are really coming together,” Alessi said. “We have a tough stretch coming up at Branford (today, 7 p.m.), home against Hand (Friday, 5:15 p.m.), at Guilford (Monday, 7 p.m.) and at home against Prep (May 13, 5:15 p.m.).
“Hopefully, we can continue the momentum.”