SOUTHINGTON - Evan Daddona will soon trade in his Southington blue for Hartford red.
With the Southington High School library filled with students, teachers, coaches and family, the All-State goalkeeper for the boys soccer team made it official, as he put pen to paper and signed on to play collegiately at the University of Hartford, a Division I program, Thursday afternoon.
“When you look back on a four-year career, it doesn’t get much better than what Evan’s been able to accomplish over the last four years,” Southington boys head soccer coach Dave Yanosy said as he addressed those in attendance. “Culminating this year, he was an All-State player, senior bowl recipient, two-time all-conference, he pretty much did it all.”
What made Daddona’s senior year so much different than his previous three was he played a majority of it with a broken hand and at a different position.
It was in the second game of the season when Daddona injured his hand and he knew right away it was broken.
“I was going up on a cross and I went to go punch the ball out,” Daddona said. “But I ended up punching my own teammate’s face. The doctor told me I would be out for about six weeks but I wanted to help out the team. So I asked coach if he would put me on the field until I was healthy, and he was all for it.”
Daddona returned to goal with just five games left in the regular season before helping his team advance to the second round of the Class LL Tournament, where the Blue Knights fell to Glastonbury.
“His response when he handles a really tough injury really says a lot about him, as an individual and a soccer player,” Yanosy said. “Those qualities right there are going to make him a successful player at the next level. He’s the first one to practice, last one to leave. That’s a cliché that coaches tend to use, but with him it’s actually true. It’s because of those reasons I have no doubt he’s going to be successful at the next level.”
When it came time to pick colleges, Daddona was stuck between Western New England University and Hartford.
Both schools had everything Daddona was looking for academically, so it all came down to soccer.
“It was a lot of thinking,” Daddona said. “But with Hartford, I knew all the coaches probably more than three years, especially the goalkeeper coach.”
Tom Poitras, the current head coach of Hartford’s men’s soccer team, also happens to be a Southington High graduate himself, while Mirza Harambasic, the assistant and goalkeeper coach, has been working with Daddona for the last three years.
“[Harambasic]’s been great,” Daddona said. “He’s helped me out so much and to know that I’m going to be with him again for the next four years is incredible.”
Still, it was not a decision Daddona made lightly. Committing to play collegiate sports is one thing, but committing to play Division I soccer is another.
“It was a tough decision because it’s D-I. It’s a big commitment and a lot of work,” Daddona said. “But it has always been my dream to go as far as possible and when times get tough, I’m just going to think back and remember why you’re here.”
His high school coach certainly believes Daddona is up for the challenge.
“I know he wanted to challenge himself to see if he could play at the highest level,” Yanosy said. “I think that was a big factor in his decision making. It was to truly challenge himself and play Division I soccer, even if that meant not right away. He’s got all the tools to be successful. It’s just now up to him to go do it.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or email@example.com