Sports Person of the Week
Luciani’s Always Moving in the Midfield
Cooper Luciani brings tremendous energy to the midfield as a senior captain for the Old Saybrook boys’ soccer squad. (Photo courtesy of Cooper Luciani )
Cooper Luciani earned a starting spot on the Old Saybrook boys’ soccer team as a junior last year, and he’s been a key cog for the Rams in the midfield ever since. Now a senior captain, Cooper and his teammates recently guided Old Saybrook to a share of the Shoreline Conference title and have their sights set on claiming a second-straight Class S state championship.
“I learned to love soccer when I was eight years old,” says Cooper. “It’s always been about running and kicking and bonding with my teammates.”
The Rams got out to a decent start in the 2019 season. Old Saybrook had a record of 3-2-2 through its first seven games, but Cooper and company felt that something was missing.
“It seemed like we were constantly trying to improve and working on different formations and styles to get better. We weren’t together,” Cooper says. “Players seemed to be going in different directions. We lacked unity.”
Old Saybrook started to find its groove by playing as a more cohesive unit. The Rams went on a run that saw them go 7-0-2 through their next nine games, making Cooper one happy captain.
“During that stretch, it all seemed to come together,” Cooper says. “We entered the Shoreline Conference playoffs on an up beat. You could see the difference in our play.”
Old Saybrook advanced to the Shoreline Conference Tournament final, where the Rams battled Morgan to a 2-2 draw, resulting in both clubs being named co-champions. Last week, Old Saybrook won its first three games in the Class S State Tournament to reach the semifinal round.
“We’ve gotten stronger and stronger as a team, and it’s coming at the right time,” says Cooper.
While the unity wasn’t there early on, Cooper says the Rams have developed excellent chemistry both on and off the field as the campaign has unfolded.
“We have great chemistry. We’re all close,” he says. “When we aren’t with each other on the field, we’re somewhere else, sharing time.”
Cooper is fostering that chemistry while serving as one of Old Saybrook’s captains this season. The midfielder is joined in that role by fellow seniors Luke Hanratty, Shon Ryan, and Colin Shulmeister.
“It’s my job, along with the other three, to make sure are warmups are done right, that everyone stretches properly,” Cooper says. “And we will host meetings if they’re needed.”
Head Coach Sam Barnes has been impressed with Cooper from the second he saw him step on the pitch. Barnes says that Cooper always keeps his motor running while patrolling the midfield.
“Cooper never stops when he’s out there. He works harder than anybody on this team,” says Barnes. “Cooper has lots of talent. He’s skilled, he’s fast, he’s resilient, and he’s flexible. I could put him at any position, but his strength for us is in the midfield. He’s a universal player.”
Cooper also displays his speed on the track. Cooper is a member of the Rams’ indoor and outdoor track squads who specializes in the 400 and 800.
“It not only keeps me in shape for soccer, but I’ve learned how competitive the sport is,” Cooper says.
Cooper is an exceptional student who takes courses in advanced anatomy and physiology at Old Saybrook. He is considering a career in nursing or the field of anesthesiology. Cooper already has a head start as he’s a senior intern at Middlesex Hospital.
“Being in my second year, I’m in a supervisory role,” says Cooper. “I make sure the first-year interns are doing what they’re supposed to do and keep their time cards.”