The Southern Connecticut Conference Quinnipiac Division is arguably the toughest of the league’s four divisions in boys soccer.
The last three SCC champions have come out of this division (Fairfield Prep in 2011-12 and Xavier in 2013). Prep was a Class LL state tournament finalist in 2012 and Xavier a LL semifinalist in 2013.
Just one team in the Quinnipiac is unbeaten through today, and it’s neither Prep nor Xavier. It’s Notre Dame-West Haven.
“I thought we’d be all right but I never thought we would be 5-0-3 at this point,” Notre Dame coach Rudy Raffone said. “The challenge now is to go through the same schedule again.”
The Green Knights sit at the midway point of the regular season and have already equaled last season’s victory total. Seven starters returned from last season’s 5-7-5 team.
Different people have stepped up in different games for Notre Dame. Raffone credits forwards Nick Fratarcangeli and Alex Mathews, the top two leading scorers last season, along with midfielders Alex Ossa and Brendan Hayes as those who have been important contributors to Notre Dame’s success.
“Fratarcangeli and Mathews cause the most trouble for teams because of their size and strength,” Raffone said.
Raffone has also liked the play of his goalkeeper, sophomore Tyler Brown-Ortiz.
“He literally won the game for us (against West Haven 1-0 on Sept. 27),” Raffone said. That was West Haven’s first loss. “He made three spectacular saves. He has a really good sense of where he is on the field. He reads the game very well. He’s not very big (5 feet, 10 inches). If this kid grows to 6-1, you can have a major college prospect.”
Raffone also credits his coaching staff, which includes all former standout players. Alex Rincon, a native of Colombia, played at Southern Connecticut State University (graduated 2008) as did former Guilford standout Sean O’Brien (2010). O’Brien played overseas in Germany for a couple of years after graduation.
Scott Raffone played for his father, then for Central Connecticut State (1997) before head-coaching stints at East Haven (2000-07) and Morgan (2008-12). And Omar Espinosa also played for the Green Knights before playing at Stonehill (2001).
All three of Notre Dame’s ties were 1-1 against Prep, Xavier and Hand. The Green Knights host Prep at 4 p.m. today and travel to Middletown Friday to face Xavier.
So the Green Knights have the opportunity to take control of the division right in front of them.