Oumorou's goal lifts WH to season-opening win over ND
By MIKE MADERA
(September 10, 2016) - Heading into the season opener against cross-town rival Notre Dame, the West Haven boys soccer team had a different mindset. While last season proved successful with a high-tempo offense, the 2016 season would be treated differently with a defense first mentality.
It also does not hurt to have one of the best players in the state in Salah Oumorou.
That defense, led by the play of Sergio Figueroa and Mo Togbah, and the offense of Oumorou were enough in a 1-0 victory over Notre Dame in a Southern Connecticut Conference Quinnipiac Division contest at Ken Strong Stadium Saturday evening.
“We are built around defense,” West Haven coach Peter Hamasian said after his team improved to 1-0. “We have to be defensive-minded. We know the style we have to play. We cannot break down.”
Ty Reeves and the Westies opened the season with a victory over Notre Dame, September 10, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
The West Haven defense limited the Green Knights’ scoring chances, pushing a bulk of the action to the outside. Notre Dame had a few quality chances in the second half, but West Haven goalkeeper Alex Saier made a pair of saves to preserve the win.
“We are young and small, but we played hard,” Notre Dame coach Rudy Raffone said after his team fell to 0-1. “We played like a Notre Dame team. We played like we used to play. We battled and we were gritty.”
The lone goal of the contest came late in the first half as Oumorou drew a foul and was awarded a direct kick with 1 minute, 52 seconds remaining in the half. Oumorou took advantage, drilling a shot to the top right corner off the diving fingertips of Notre Dame goalkeeper Tyler Brown-Ortiz.
Salah Oumorou (15) scores against Notre Dame, September 10, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“I saw which way he was looking and I just went to the opposite side,” Oumorou said. “I am proud of the team. I am proud of everyone. They (Notre Dame) know I am a dangerous player and all eyes are on me. We had other guys step up tonight.”
With the Westies up by one goal, Oumorou looked as if he would extend the lead when his bicycle kick sailed towards the goals, but was denied by Brown-Ortiz.
“He is a good goalkeeper,” Raffone said of Brown-Ortiz. “He made some good saves for us tonight.”
The Green Knights had two opportunities to get the equalizer in the second half. Sean Mufarinya directed a corner kick wide 12 minutes in, and sophomore Noah Lee shot wide from 18 yards out off a corner with 10:35 remaining.
“I thought our defense, especially Sergio Figueroa and Mo Togbah, did a great job,” Hamasian said. “We did well all the way around.”
West Haven had a golden scoring opportunity 2:24 into the contest when a chip from Ian Cooke to Oumorou was tipped over the goal. Brown-Ortiz denied Oumorou with a sliding save six minutes in, and Brandon Mino was stopped in the middle from 25 yards out with 9:43 left in the opening half.
Notre Dame had one solid scoring chance in the opening half, but Louis Flood’s laser from 30 yards out was punched away by Saier with 24:52 left in the half.
Alex Saier makes a save against Notre Dame, September 10, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“In the past, we would always look at the big picture,” Hamasian said. “This year, we are taking it one game at a time. It is a process to get to where we want to be.”Saier picked up the victory with three saves in the shutout. Brown-Ortiz was equally good, making six saves in the loss.
Salah Oumorou (15) scores against Notre Dame, September 10, 2016. Double click to view full screen. Video courtesy of Mike Madera
Westies fall to Shelton 2-1
By MIKE MADERA
(September 16, 2016) - West Haven boys soccer coach Pete Hamasian was well aware how tough the start of the 2016 season could be. After opening with a victory over cross-town rival Notre Dame, West Haven had a little less than a week to prepare for Shelton.
Unfortunately for the Westies, the time off did not help as the Gaels posted a 2-1 victory at Ken Strong Stadium Friday evening. With the loss, West Haven fell to 1-1 on the season.
"It was a well fought game," Hamasian said. "We showed resilience, but unfortunately we didn't get the result. This is a game that will help us grow up and mature."
After Shelton's Ethan Shuster gave the Gaels a 1-0 lead at the six minute mark of the first half, West Haven's Salah Oumorou evened the game with a tally with nine minutes to go.
The Westies would have no such luck in picking up their second straight win as Shelton's Mikey Sciorentino scored the game-winner seven minutes later.
The Gaels held a 19-8 advantage in shots. Alex Saier made 14 saves in the contest for the Westies.
Sheehan tops Westies
WH falls to 1-2 with 4-2 loss
By MIKE MADERA
(September 19, 2016) - The West Haven boys soccer team was looking for a smooth start to the season. After winning the opener, the next two contests have not produced the results the Westies were looking for.
Falling behind by two goals early, the Westies never got the equalizer and dropped a 4-2 decision at Sheehan Monday evening. With the loss, West Haven fell to 1-2 on the season.
"It was the worst game we have played here in three years and not because of our mistakes," West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said. "It was a lack of effort and passion. I can promise that it will never happen again."
Malcolm Antoine (2) and the Westies fell against Sheehan, September 19, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Sheehan got on the board first, scoring twice in the first half. The Titans took an early lead as Richie Dominguez needed just 1 minute, 17 seconds to give Sheehan a 1-0 advantage.
West Haven fell into a 2-0 hole least than 15 minutes later as Jason Umbehr scored 13:28 after the Dominguez tally for a 2-0 lead.
Matt French got the Westies within striking distance 23:18 into the second half off an assist from Malcolm Antoine, but the hopes of a West Haven comeback faded 3:12 later when Andrew Caplan gave Sheehan a 3-1 advantage.
West Haven kept battling and again drew within a goal when Salah Oumorou scored off a rebound with 2:27 remaining. That was as close as the Westies would get as they could not get the equalizer. Caplan iced the game with his second goal of the game in the final minute.
Abdoul Aremu (11) and the Westies fell against Sheehan, September 19, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Alex Saier made seven saves in the loss for West Haven. Sheehan held an 11-7 shot advantage in the contest.
Westies fall to Prep
Solid effort not enough in 3-2 loss
By MIKE MADERA
(September 21, 2016) - West Haven coach Pete Hamasian was none too pleased following a loss to Sheehan. Hamasian vowed his team would bring a better effort against Fairfield Prep.
While that effort was there. West Haven could not pull off the victory, falling to the Jesuits 3-2 Wednesday evening in Fairfield.
Salah Oumorou (15) and the Westies fell to Fairfield Prep, September 21, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"I am never pleased with a loss, but I saw a lot of good things come out of this game and I saw us starting to grow up," Hamasian said after his team fell to 1-3. "We just ran into a very good Prep team. If we continue this level of play, we will be successful this season."
Salah Oumorou and Abdoul Aremu scored for the Westies.
Read about the game from Joe Morelli at GameTimeCT here.
Westies shut out North Haven 5-0
By MIKE MADERA
(September 24, 2016) - Following three straight losses, the West Haven boys soccer team was looking for some sort of spark. Abdoul Aremu was pleased to provide that.
Scoring three times, Aremu led West Haven to a 3-0 victory over North Haven Saturday evening at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven.
Abdoul Aremu (11), seen here against Fairfield Prep, scored three times against North Haven, September 24, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"Abdoul Aremu came out on fire with three goals in the first 25 minutes," West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said after his team improved to 2-3. "The team fed off of his energy to get a much needed team win."
Aremu scored the first three goals of the contest, the first unassisted, and the next two off assists from Salah Oumorou, for an early 3-0 advantage.
Malcolm Antoine gave the Westies a 4-0 advantage off an assist from Matt French, before Oumorou capped the scoring for a 5-0 advantage.
Alex Saier made five saves in posting the shutout.
Westies pound Career/Hillhouse 8-2
By MIKE MADERA
(September 26, 2016) - Heading into the 2016 season, there were plenty of questions surrounding the West Haven boys soccer team. One of those questions was who would step up and help Salah Oumorou on the offensive side of the game.
Six games into the season, West Haven coach Pete Hamasian is starting to see that help arrive.
Paced by a balanced attack which saw four different players each score twice, West Haven easily defeated Career/Hillhouse 8-2 Monday afternoon in New Haven.
Sergio Figueroa (12) takes a shot against Career/Hillhouse, September 26, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"We got off to a slow start, conceding early, but we started to play our game," Hamasian said. "I was very proud of how we played, especially how balanced we were. Four players had multi-goal games."
Trailing 1-0, Oumorou got West Haven the equalizer off an assist from Abdoul Aremu, who finished with a pair of goals and two assists. Aremu gave West Haven a 2-1 lead off an assist from Malcolm Antoine, before Ty Reeves set up Oumorou's seventh goal of the season for a 3-1 West Haven advantage.
Malcolm Antoine (2) and Ty Reeves (18) battle for possession against Career/Hillhouse, September 26, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Leading 3-2 at the half, Antoine and Aremu helped put the game away. Antoine scored the first two goals of the second half, the first off an assist from Aremu and the second off an assist from Reeves, for a 5-2 advantage.
Aremu scored an unassisted goal for a 6-2 advantage and Wanderson Maia scored the final two goals, with the second coming off an assist from Jarol Navarro.
Antoine finished the contest with two goals and an assist and Reeves added a pair of assists.
Alex Saier made eight saves in the win for the Westies.
Westies win third straight with decision over Hamden
By MIKE MADERA
(September 30, 2016) - Staring at a 1-3 record, West Haven coach Pete Hamasian vowed his team would play better. Three games later, Hamasian has proven to be correct.
With a 3-1 road victory over Hamden Friday evening, West Haven won its third consecutive game to improve to 4-3 on the season.
"It was a difficult game for us with the weather conditions, but we focused defensively and capitalized when given the opportunity to finish," Hamasian said.
The Westies got on the scoreboard first when Abdoul Aremu netted his seventh goal of the season off an assist from Mehemet Celik in the first half. When Andrew Kirschenbaum scored for Hamden, the two teams went to the half even at one.
The Westies took over the second half. Paced by Salah Oumorou, West Haven scored both second half goals to post the victory.
Oumorou had both goals to raise his total to a team-leading nine on the season.
Matt Ffrench assisted on Oumorou's first tally, while Ty Reeves assisted on Oumorou's second goal for insurance.
Hamden held a 10-7 shot advantage in the game, but West Haven goalkeeper Alex Saier made nine saves to preserve the West Haven win.
Xavier shuts out Westies 2-0
By MIKE MADERA
(October 5, 2016) - Riding a three-game winning streak, the West Haven boys soccer team was looking to keep climbing. That rise took a bit of a hit Wednesday afternoon.
Unable to get on the scoreboard, West Haven fell in Middletown against Xavier, 2-0. The loss snaps West Haven's win streak and drops the Westies to 4-4.
"We seemed to play flat and didn't have much life in us," West Haven head coach Pete Hamasian said. "It showed in the result."
Alex Saier, seen here making a save earlier in the season against Fairfield Prep, made eight saves in a loss to Xavier, October 5, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
The Falcons did a nice job of containing West Haven's offense, keeping the Westies off the scoreboard.
While West Haven goalkeeper Alex Saier played well with eight saves, Xavier was able to pick up a pair of goals to help post the win.
All Tied Up
Westies rally to knot ND
By MIKE MADERA
(October 7, 2016) - In a season-opening win over cross-town rival Notre Dame, one goal was enough to post the victory. In the second meeting of the year Friday evening, one goal was just enough to earn a tie.
Abdoul Aremu's tally late in the contest lifted the Westies to a 1-1 draw with the Green Knights at Veteran's Stadium in West Haven.
"We showed a lot of heart to battle back and get the late equalizer," West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said after his team moved to 4-4-1. "But, injuries are really hindering our growth and keeping us from reaching our full potential."
Mehmet Celik (10) against Notre Dame, October 7, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
After a scoreless first half, both teams got on the board in the final 25 minutes.
Notre Dame struck first when Nick Copenhaver scored off an assist from Joe Antonucci at the 57 minute mark. That would be the lone goal for the Green Knights as West Haven goalkeeper Alex Saier finished with four saves in the game.
Held off the scoreboard for the first 73 minutes of the game, the Westies finally got the equalizer in the 74th minute. Aremu helped West Haven earn the point when he beat Notre Dame goalkeeper Tyler Brown-Ortiz off an assist from Salah Oumorou.
Sean Malone (22) against Notre Dame, October 7, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Neither team could tally in the final six minutes as Notre Dame moved to 3-4-3 with the draw.
West Haven seniors against Hamden, October 24, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Westies fall to Gaels
Winless streak reaches four games in 4-1 loss
By MIKE MADERA
(October 11, 2016) - After defeating Hamden two weeks ago for its third straight win, the West Haven boys soccer team was trending in the right direction. Since that time, things have not gone the way coach Pete Hamasian envisioned.
After falling 4-1 on the road to Shelton Tuesday evening, the Westies are now winless in their last four games (0-3-1) and have fallen to 4-5-1 on the season.
"We played with no heart or passion and that isn't what playing for this program is all about," Hamasian said.
Playing without Salah Oumorou, who was held out for a nagging injury, West Haven struggled to generate any offense. By the time Daniel Morales scored in the final 10 minutes off an assist from Mehmet Celik, the Westies were already in a 4-0 hole.
Nicola LoBello scored twice and added an assist for the Gaels, while Isajiah Robles had a goal and two assists.
LoBello put the Gaels on top 1-0 just four minutes into the contest, then set up Robles 11 minutes later.
Robles set up LoBello 12 minutes into the second half, then set up Alex DeMoura five minutes after for a 4-0 Shelton advantage.
Alex Saier made seven saves in the loss for the Westies.
Westies blank Titans
WH snaps winless streak with 2-0 win
By MIKE MADERA
(October 14, 2016) - It has been some time since the Westies last tasted the feeling of a victory. The wait is officially over.
Led by Abdoul Aremu and Matt Ffrench on offense, and seven saves from Alex Saier, West Haven snapped a four game winless steak with a 2-0 victory over Sheehan Friday evening.
With the win, West Haven snapped an 0-3-1 streak and improved to 5-5-1 on the year.
Abdoul Aremu (11) scored as West Haven defeated Sheehan, October 14, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"This was a much needed win," West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said. "We pushed up to get an early goal and never looked back."
Aremu scored the lone goal of the first half off an assist from Mehmet Celik to give West Haven a 1-0 lead, before Ffrench added a second half tally off an assist from Aremu to increase the margin to 2-0.
Ty Reeves (18) helped lead the defensive effort against Sheehan, October 14, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
That was all the Westies needed as the defense contained Sheehan's quality shots and Saier was perfect in goal.
Back at It
Late goal by Oumorou earns WH tie with Prep
By MIKE MADERA
(October 17, 2016) - It has been no secret West Haven star soccer player Salah Oumorou has been playing at less than full strength this season. For someone with Oumorou's talent, less than full strength is sometimes equal to others at their best.
Oumorou showed just how talented he is, picking up the tying goal late in the game, as West Haven rallied to tie Fairfield Prep 1-1 at Ken Strong Stadium Monday evening.
Salah Oumorou (15) and the Westies played to a 1-1 draw against Fairfield Prep, October 18, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"It was an extremely hard fought game by both teams," West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said after his team moved to 5-5-2 on the season. "I think we had the better of the opportunities, but any time you are trailing with under 15 minutes to play and you escape with a tie, it's a good day."
In a game which was a tough battle for each team, neither team was able to score in the opening 40 minutes. With the clock ticking away, the Jesuits picked up what looked to be a decisive goal 20 minutes into the second half for a 1-0 lead.
West Haven players clear the front of the goal against Fairfield Prep, October 18, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven kept battling and the hard work paid off with 12 minutes to go.
Off an assist from Matt Ffrench, Oumorou scored the tying goal, helping West Haven gain a valuable point in the contest.
West Haven goalkeeper Alex Saier made four saves in the draw.
3 goals by Oumorou lead WH to postseason
By MIKE MADERA
(October 19, 2016) - Through all the ups and downs of the 2016 season, the goal has remained the same for the West Haven boys soccer team. That goal, to play in the postseason, became a reality Wednesday afternoon.
Led by three goals by Salah Oumorou, West Haven defeated North Haven 6-1. The road victory allowed the Westies to improve to 6-5-2 and clinch a postseason bid.
"After a slow start to the game, we did what we had to do to get the win," West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said. "It puts us another step closer to our ultimate goal."
Salah Oumorou (15) scored three goals against North Haven, October 19, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
While the game may have started slowly on the scoreeboard, it picked up quite a bit in the second half.
Abdoul Aremu gave West Haven a 1-0 lead in the first half when he scored off an assist from Mo Togbah.
After Justin Shea evened the game at one to start the second half, Oumorou and the Westies scored the final five goals of the contest.
Oumorou gave West Haven a 2-1 lead, then used a penalty kick to give West Haven a 3-1 advantage. After Daniel Morales increased the lead to 4-1 with an unassisted goal, Oumorou recorded the hat trick and increased the margin to 5-1 as he scored off an assist from Mehmet Celik.
Abdoul Aremu (11) against North Haven, October 19, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven capped the scoring with its fifth straight goal as Malcolm Antoine scored off an assist from Brandon Mino.
West Haven held a 15-4 shot advantage in the game. Alex Saier made two saves in the win for the Westies.
Oumorou scores 3 more goals to lead WH
By MIKE MADERA
(October 21, 2016) - If Salah Oumorou is starting to get healthy, opposing teams should be worried. Battling a nagging groin injury all season, Oumorou has still put up impressive numbers.
Those numbers do not compare to what the senior has done in his last two games. Scoring three goals in each of those contests, including all three in a 3-0 West Haven win over North Haven Friday evening, Oumorou increased his team lead to 16 goals and 35 points on the season.
"The win capped off an undefeated week for us and it's great to see that we are starting to play our best soccer at the right time of the season," West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said after his team improved to 7-5-2.
Oumorou scored the lone goal of the first half to give the Westies a 1-0 lead, then turned it on in the second half, scoring twice more.
Oumorou gave the Westies a 2-0 lead, scoring off a penalty kick, then increased the margin to 3-0 when he scored off an assist from Daniel Morales.
Alex Saier was stellar in goal, denying all eight shots put on goal by Career/Hillhouse.
The Westies are 3-0-1 in their last four games.
Oumorou and Aremu lead way over Hamden
By MIKE MADERA
(October 24, 2016) WEST HAVEN – Needing a win to punch a ticket in the upcoming Southern Connecticut Conference tournament, it comes as no surprise seniors Salah Oumorou and Abdoul Aremu led the way.
Scoring two minutes, 56 seconds into the second half, Oumorou’s goal held up as West Haven topped Hamden 2-0 in a SCC interdivision contest at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven Monday evening.
Salah Oumorou (15) against Hamden, October 24, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“It’s a great win for us,” Oumorou said after scoring his team-leading 17th goal. “You want to win on Senior Night. We had to win to get in the SCC’s. I am proud of my team and everyone.”
The win by the Westies helped them improve to 8-5-2, and more importantly secured a wildcard spot in the tournament and improved the seeding for the state tournament.
“We have relied on them all year,” West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said of Oumorou and Aremu. “We count on them big time. The defense was strong like we expected. We have strung some shutouts together and are undefeated in our last five.”
With a scoreless first half, West Haven put the early pressure on in the second half. After taking a perfect feed from junior Ty Reeves, Oumorou came down the left wing and blasted a shot past Hamden goalkeeper Simon Pinela to the top left corner for a 1-0 West Haven lead.
With both teams each having a pair of scoring opportunities denied in the second half, the Westies put the game away with 5:28 remaining. Taking a pass from Marcus Anyafulu, Aremu roofed a shot past Pinela to seal the West Haven win.
Abdoul Aremu (11) against Hamden, October 24, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“It feels very good,” Aremu said. “It was our last home game on Senior Night. The whole team worked hard to make the SCC’s. It is about team work, which is really important. Everyone stepped up, the freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.”
Hamden had a pair of solid scoring opportunities. A header by Emmanuel Yeboah was stopped by West Haven goalkeeper Adam Saier, before Saier made one of his four saves by denying Andrew Kirschenbaum from 20 yards out with 18 minutes to go.
“I thought we outplayed them,” Hamden coach Ralph Romano said after his team fell to 7-5-3. “We had a lot of the possession, but they went up 2-0 and went into a defensive shell. This is one of the better games we have played all year. The score does not show it. We are playing a really tough West Haven team. They have some kids who are like playing men against boys. They play to their strengths very well.”
In a tightly contested first half, neither team was able to get on the scoreboard despite each team having a quality scoring opportunity.
After Hamden’s Tyler Newman had his shot denied from 25 yards less than two minutes in, Michael Laouette shot wide from 15 yards out 8:20 in. Andrew Kirschenbaum shot a laser over the net from 25 yards out with 14:45 remaining in the opening half.
The Westies pressured and had one dynamic chance to get on the scoreboard with 25:30 left in the opening half as Oumorou raced in and blasted a rocket towards the lower right corner which seemed destined for a goal. Pinela dove to his left and knocked away Oumorou’s blast at the last second.
“Everyone came out strong,” Oumorou said. “It was teamwork. Everyone’s family was here and we wanted to make them proud.”
Pinela made eight saves in the loss for Hamden.
Rams score in final minute to stun Westies
By MIKE MADERA
(October 29, 2016) - Saturday afternoon's Southern Connecticut Conference quarterfinal contest between sixth-seeded West Haven and third-seeded Cheshire had plenty of momentum swings.
Unfortunately for the Westies, that last swing belonged to the Rams. Scoring in the final minute of regulation, Cheshire rallied to defeat West Haven 3-2 in the quarterfinal round of the SCC tournament.
"It was devastating to lose in that fashion," West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said after his team fell to 8-6-2. "Our inexperience got the best of us, but this will help us moving into states."
Abdoul Aremu (11) scores against Cheshire, October 29, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Cheshire, which improved to 11-1-2, came up with a big play in the final minute of the game to complete a rally which saw the Rams overcome a deficit in the final 9 minutes.
After a scoreless first half, West Haven took a 1-0 lead when Abdoul Aremu scored off an assist from Mehmet Celik with 12:10 remaining for a 1-0 lead. Mitch Manware evened the game 1:43 later for Cheshire, before the Westies answered.
Salah Oumorou (15) scored against Cheshire, October 29, 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Off an assist from Ty Reeves, senior Salah Oumorou put the Westies on top 2-1 when he scored with nine minutes to go, but the Westies could not hang on.
Manware scored 1:45 later and Quinn Boucaud scored in the final minute of regulation.
Alex Saier made six saves in the loss for West Haven.
Xavier shuts out Westies in regular season finale
By MIKE MADERA
(November 2, 2016) - West Haven head coach Pete Hamasian and his boys soccer team had to feel a bit out of place heading into a regular season contest Wednesday evening.
Having lost a crushing contest against Cheshire in the Southern Connecticut Conference quarterfinals less than a week earlier, the Westies had to be looking to the state tournament to avenge the loss.
Such was the case at Ken Strong Stadium as West Haven fell to Xavier 2-0 in the home contest in a makeup of a postponed game earlier in the season.
"We got caught looking ahead to the states and it showed in the energy on the field," Hamasian said after his team fell to 8-7-2 with its second straight loss in the regular season finale.
Looking ahead to the postseason and wanting fresh bodies on the field, Hamasian gave goalkeeper Alex Saier, senior sniper Salah Oumorou, and key defender Ty Reeves the night off.
The Westies managed just four shots on goal in the game, which was not nearly enough in the loss.
Saul Novoa made eight saves in the loss for West Haven.
West Haven returns to play in state tournament action, with opponents and schedules released on Friday.
WH falls to Shelton in Class LL opener
By MIKE MADERA
(November 8, 2016) - Shelton boys soccer coach Joe D’Auria was so worried about Tuesday evening’s state tournament contest, he did not sleep Monday evening. Not only did D’Auria remember how the Gaels were ousted early in the state tournament last season after winning the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament, and faced the same scenario this season, the Shelton coach also knew how tough it was to beat a team three times in a season.
Having already defeated the Westies twice this season, and adding to the mix the Westies contained a weapon in the form of Salah Oumorou, D’Auria had reason to be concerned.
Through 68 minutes, those concerns were becoming reality. But, a goal by senior Mikey Sciortino with 11 minutes, eight seconds remaining in regulation sent the seventh-seeded Gaels to a 1-0 victory over No. 26 West Haven in the opening round of the CIAC Class LL state tournament at Finn Stadium in Shelton.
“It was very tough, especially after last year,” D’Auria said of regrouping after winning the SCC title. “That was my biggest concern. I did not sleep last night.”
With the victory, the Gaels will play tenth-seeded Wilbur Cross, a 1-0 double overtime winner over Hamden, Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Shelton.
For West Haven, the loss was especially tough as the Westies had several quality opportunities in the contest, but could not convert.
Oumorou, who finished his brilliant high school career with 18 goals and 39 points in his senior season, had a golden opportunity to even the game with four minutes to go, but a pass from Abdoul Aremu just inched by his outstretched leg in front of the Shelton goal.
“It is really disappointing to lose, but I am very proud of my teammates,” Oumorou said after his team closed the season 8-8-2. “We came up short. We came in focused on this game and we really worked hard. It is no one’s fault. We played hard.”
The opening round contest looked as if it was headed to overtime as neither team was able to capitalize in the contest. That all changed in the final 12 minutes.
Sciortino got control of a high bouncing ball off a lead from Tyler Carvalho, split the West Haven defense, and tapped a shot to the right corner past West Haven goalkeeper Alex Saier with 11:08 to go for the only goal the Gaels would need.
“That was the hard part,” Sciortino said of getting refocused after winning the SCC title. “Last year, we won the SCC and thought we were all that and lost. This year, our focus was on staying strong.
“That is a play we work on. We get the ball from the flank to the middle. We knew I was bigger than most of their guys and we were just trying to get a ball in the air one time to get a goal.”
The goal by Sciortino helped Shelton avoid an overtime which could have been dangerous for the Gaels as West Have picked up its play in the final portion of the second half. West Haven’s biggest opportunity came with 13 minutes gone by in the second half as Mehmet Celik’s free kick rocketed off the crossbar.
“They are a great team over there and they did a great job as always,” West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said. “We worked on our game plan the last six or seven days and we did it to perfection. In the first 20 minutes, we had three or four golden opportunities. We did not capitalize.”
The opening half chances Hamasian talked of took place when Oumorou was denied by Shelton goalkeeper Isaac Garcia from 18 yards out with 12:46 remaining in the half, before a free kick by Celik was stopped from 30 yards with 10:25 to go.
The second half saw Saier make a diving save through a scramble in front off a corner kick 6:45 in, before Sciortino was denied from 17 yards with less than 30 minutes to go.
“Our defense played a phenomenal game tonight,” D’Auria said. “We had to contain their formation and 15 (Oumorou). We did that very well tonight.”
Garcia finished with seven saves in the shutout for the Gaels, while Saier made nine saves in the loss for West Haven.
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Ready to Go
Oumorou and Westies looking for big year
By MIKE MADERA
(September 4, 2016) - Salah Oumorou and the Westies have high hopes for the 2016 season. After advancing to the second round of the state tournament and the SCC finals, the Westies are ready for more.
Oumorou will clearly be the player opposing teams have a close eye on after his stellar junior campaign in which he scored 31 goals and added five assists for 67 points.
Unfortunately for the Westies, that stellar season came to a crushing end with losses to Shelton in the Southern Connecticut Conference finals and top-seeded Glastonbury in the second round of the state tournament.
2016 brings plenty of hope. That renewed hope will be needed as the
Salah Oumorou and the Westies are looking to play deep into the postseason in 2016. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Westies lost a total of 50 points with the graduations of Blaise Haba and Ulises Hernandez. While Oumorou will be the key piece on the 2016 squad, others will clearly need to step up to take the pressure off the talented scorer.
"Salah is the most talented player at the high school level I have ever seen," West Haven coach Pete Hamasian said. "His work ethic is unbelievable. He trained in Florida all summer to be better than he has been. He knows the attention is on him. The key for him is to get everyone involved to produce and win games.
"I think he has adjusted pretty well. He is looking to find chemistry with someone. He has been really drawn to sophomore Danny Morales. The two have worked well together. We do not have a lot of varsity experience. We are trying to mold someone to be the kid he turns to."
With Oumorou and senior Abdoul Aremu leading the way as the team's captains, the Westies are in good hands.
Oumorou will play center midfielder and forward, while Aremu, who had two goals and two assists last season for six points, will play outside midfield and forward.
Junior Ty Reeves returns as a center back, while fellow junior Marcus Anyafulu will play up top at the forward position.
"Some of the young guys are going to get a chance to see what a top tier player looks like," Hamasian said. "We know we are not as dominant on offense as we were last season. We will start with the defense and not being in a position where we can give up a lot of goals. A lot of our games are going to be 2-1, 1-0 games. We understand we can be as good, but with a different approach."
The key, ultimately, may come in goal as senior Alex Saier replaces the graduated Garfield Robinson, who saved 84% of his shots last season.
"I think Alex can have a good year," Hamasian said of Saier. "Garfield (Robinson) didn't start before his senior year. I think he learned from Garfield a lot. He has the tools to be good. It is all potential until he proves it."
With plenty of new faces on the field, Hamasian is well aware the team has to mesh together. Early on, the West Haven coach has been impressed.
"I like their work ethic and discipline," Hamasian said. "Discipline will be the key. Everyone on the team is fighting for a spot.
"We definitely want to qualify for both tournaments, the SCC (Southern Connecticut Conference) and state tournaments. We want to build off the success we had last year. We had 25 wins over the last two years. I am less concerned with wins this year. We want to get the wins to get in the tournaments, but I will be more concerned with the postseason and being successful there. We want to build off the postseason of last year."
West Haven opens the season, Saturday, September 10, 2016 at home against cross-town rival Notre Dame at 7 p.m. at Ken Strong Stadium.
All-State Players - Luigi Cappetta '88; Eric Soares '97; Dave Forero '99; Carlos Caracas '00; Matt Gilman '02; Salah Oumorou '14, '15, '16
All-New England Players and All-American Players - Salah Oumorou '16
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