WATERBURY — Players with roots in Naugatuck Youth Soccer have provided a spark for the Chase Highlanders.
Joe Scarpati, a junior defender from Prospect, along with freshmen and Naugatuck residents Jaiden Paniagua, a center back, and Patrick Osiecki, a striker, all have connections to the NYS program where Chase head coach Joe Campos served as the former president and knows firsthand the abilities of his current players.
“These kids have talent. I’ve been contacted by Division I coaches about these kids, and they also have the academics down, which is the most important part,” Campos said.
Scarpati went to Woodland for his freshman year before transferring to Chase.
“Joe is a beast on defense for us,” Campos said. “He is a good role model for the younger players. He also plays lacrosse and shows them how a strong work ethic can lead to success.”
“We play as a family, and I just try and do my part,” Scarpati said. “I chose to come to Chase because I feel it challenges me to be the best I can be.”
Paniagua and Osiecki both played at City Hill Middle School and are members of the Rush premier team that won a state cup.
The Highlanders began the season by playing in the Waterbury jamboree and didn’t allow a goal in six of the seven quarters they played.
Chase ended the regular season with back-to-back wins to finish 5-7 overall and earned the No. 4 seed in the Housatonic Valley Athletic League tournament, which started Monday.
Osiecki scored a hat trick in a 9-3 win over Watkinson on Oct. 30.
“Patrick has a nose for the ball,” Campos said. “He has a quick attacking style and his all-out hustle is evident from the first minute to the last minute of play.”
Paniagua had a goal and an assist in a 6-1 win over Williams on Oct. 31.
“Jaiden is the most talented player I’ve seen in my 30 years of coaching,” said Campos, whose been selected as a coach in the Western New England Prep School All-Star Game set for Sunday. “He has all the intangibles: size, speed, technical skills and a great work ethic.”
Paniagua had four goals on the season and has five assists during the regular season.
“Chase is a great opportunity for me and my family,” Paniagua said. “The competition level in the HVAL is way harder than I expected. It’s a good challenge for me and it has improved my skill level.”
Osiecki had two hat tricks and led the Highlanders with 12 goals in the regular season.
“Coming in here as a freshman I really didn’t know what to expect,” Osiecki said. “I knew Chase would make me a better player and a student, but the competition we face has really helped me to improve my skills as a player.”
Chase Collegiate athletic director Logan Condon said the school is excited to have local players on the roster.
“Bringing in these kids from Naugatuck who are ready to be challenged academically as well as on the field of athletics is a wonderful thing,” he said. “Naugatuck has always been a part of the Chase community, and it’s a good thing for all those involved.”