By By Dan Fappiano • 01/05/2022 10:46 PM EST
Although North Haven’s men’s golf team lacks experience, head coach Kevin St. Pierre believes the Nighthawks more than make up for it with the passion they show on the course. As his team seeks to qualify for the Division I state championship, Coach St. Pierre said all Nighthawks players are working together and challenging each other to become the best golfers possible this season.
The Nighthawks played games against Branford and East Haven last week, suffering losses in both games. North Haven lost to Branford 166-195 in a road game at Pine Orchard Country Club on April 25, then suffered a 191-199 home loss to East Haven at Tradition Golf Club on April 27. april. North Haven now has a 1-4 record on the year.
Freshman Will Sagnella finished in a three-way tie for medal honors by shooting a low 39 when the Nighthawks faced Branford. Sophomore captain Kevin Lawlor was next for North Haven in posting a career-low 44. Sophomore Chris Labanara shot a 55, while fellow sophomore Dinny LaDore finished with a 57 for the Nighthawks, whose team score of 195 marked their second-best of the season.
Sagnella finished with a score of 46 to earn co-medalist accolade in the East Haven encounter. Labanara shot a 49, Lawlor scored a 52, senior captain Brady Connolly also shot a 52 and LaDore scored a 54 for North Haven. Despite the two losses, Coach St. Pierre was impressed with the Nighthawks’ performance over the past week, calling it one of the best performances he’s seen from his team to date.
“These last two games, in my opinion, have been the best so far,” St. Pierre said. “I can only see them getting better as we move forward.”
North Haven has three captains at three different levels this year. Connolly is senior captain, Christian Basmadjian is junior captain and Lawlor is sophomore captain for the Nighthawks. Coach St. Pierre wanted everyone in the program to know that they can be leaders, regardless of rank. St. Pierre believes his three captains demonstrate what it really means to represent the North Haven golf team.
“All three have been on the program since they were freshmen. All three play different styles and different intensities, but they show the other guys when we play other teams what it means to be a golfer. from North Haven,” St. Pierre said. “They all really show what it means to be captain. They’re great leaders and they all work well together.
The Nighthawks roster usually changes from game to game. When North Haven faced East Haven, the team roster consisted of Sagnella, Lawlor, Labanara, LaDore, and Connelly in the No. 1-5 spots, respectively. Yet, Coach St. Pierre actively encourages competition among his athletes.
St. Pierre incorporated a system where a player can challenge another player for their place in the lineup. The two players compete for nine holes, and whoever has the lowest score will get the spot. The North Haven coach wants all the players on his team to gain experience and believes competition helps them reach their potential.
Even with all the competition among North Haven golfers, Coach St. Pierre is happy to see the Nighthawks growing together as a team. St. Pierre said his athletes always work with each other to find the right type of shot to hit. With so many youngsters in the program, St. Pierre said having good chemistry has been a big plus for his club.
“They work together on the course. I see everyone working to read the green and working together on every shot, helping each other through it,” St. Pierre said. “I can’t be in every place and every hole. It’s great to see that they work perfectly together. They do it themselves. They take control. They really become a team.
While the roster spots can rotate, one thing that seems to be a constant for North Haven going forward is having Sagnella in the No. 1 hole. The freshman started in third place during of North Haven’s first two games, but Sagnella quickly showed he was ready for a bigger role and ready to lead the team on the links.
“He takes the extra step. He puts extra time into his own all the time. Last season, when he was in 8th grade, I saw him on the course,” said St. Pierre de Sagnella. “Now that he’s in the program, I purposely started him at #3. I wanted him to get used to the competition level. He grew into it. He said, ‘I’m ready’ and took this 1 place. I don’t see him looking back. Only forwards.
Sagnella is one of many underclass in North Haven’s roster, but coach St. Pierre sees the Nighthawks’ youthfulness as a good thing. St. Pierre knows that its up-and-coming golfers will benefit from the experience they gain this year and be well-prepared for success when they become the team’s veteran players.
“We are very, very young. The majority of our rosters will be three sophomores, one freshman, and one junior. It’s pretty crazy to play against some teams that come in with 18-year-old seniors,” St. Pierre said. “It’s tough, but I tell them, ‘In two years, you’ll be in those upper classes. You could go against a program as young as ours. You’re going to remember that.
There will be 17 teams qualifying for the Division I state championship this season, and Coach St. Pierre wants North Haven to be one of those teams. St. Pierre believes that if his athletes continue to “push like they push and play like they play,” the Nighthawks will have a good chance of making the playoffs.
St. Pierre, who was hired by North Haven at the start of the 2019 campaign, said he and his players understand that golf is a mental game. They realize there’s a lot more to making the cut than deciding which iron you’re going to use. And that’s where the Nighthawks stand out for St. Pierre. He said the North Haven boys’ golf program exudes passion for the game and that passion will ultimately guide the Nighthawks to new heights.
“If you wanted to see what North Haven golf looks like, you would see the passion. Instantly when they hit the course they are on the range or on the green before we leave. It wasn’t always like this,” said St. Pierre. “The upper classes are all-in and want to improve their skills. It became contagious. They take it upon themselves to better themselves, improve themselves, and challenge others.
North Haven’s men’s team golf roster includes senior captain Brady Connolly; seniors Casey Lorusso and Bryan Parker; junior captain Christian Basmadjian; second-year captain Kevin Lawlor; sophomores Dinny LaDore, Chris Labanara and Nicholas Piscatelli; and freshmen Alessio Fraschilla and Will Sagnella.