By John Goralski
It’s official. The boys lacrosse team is back in the postseason.
This week the Knights rebounded from an uncharacteristic loss in New Milford with a pair of hard-fought wins. At 8-3, Southington has clinched a postseason berth, but Coach Ron Chase brushed the accomplishment aside to focus on the team’s next challenge.
“We’ve still got a good stretch ahead of us,” said the coach. “It’s one thing to win seven games, but we’ve got Hall, Simsbury, Conard, and South Windsor coming right in a row. We have to get through those guys before we even start to think about the playoffs. We’ve got Windsor on Tuesday, and that’s all I want them to think about.”
Chase knows that things can change quickly, and he pointed to a 13-4 loss to New Milford that started the week. Southington trailed by just three goals at the half, but New Milford used an 8-1 rally in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
Kevin Cop, Will Thompson, Jared Florian, and Cody Morrissey scored goals. Brian Mahon rallied for nine saves, but it wasn’t enough as seven New Milford players picked apart the Knights.
“They are an excellent team, but we didn’t play particularly well,” said Chase. “When you do that against a good team, you’re not going to win.”
That’s why Chase is tempered about his team’s eighth win. The toughest challenges are ahead of them as Southington looks to build momentum for the postseason.
Chase said that he was pleased with the way his team responded to the loss. On Wednesday, the Knights dominated Rocky Hill as they built a 6-2 lead at the break on their way to a 12-3 victory. Cop paced the attack with three goals. Alexander Jamele, Tom Gallagher, and Morrissey scored two goals apiece, and Nick Caize, Jared DeFeo, and Bryan Davis scored solo goals.
Cop (2), Gallagher, Florian, and Joe Gambardella collected assists. Mahon and Dan Saucier combined for 10 saves to get the win.
On Friday, the Knights raised the bar again with a 9-3 road win against NFA.
“Today was probably the most excited that I’ve seen the kids in a while,” said Chase. “I think it was a little payback for them beating us last year. It was an all-around good effort. Everyone had a part in the game whether it was on the sidelines or on the field, and it was nice to see.”
Cop scored another hat trick with three goals and two assists. Morrissey scored twice. Thompson, Jamele, and Florian scored. Southington led by just one goal at the half but rallied to a 7-2 advantage down the stretch.
“I think our offense is doing a good job of playing within our scheme with those tight inside shots and dragging the midfielders behind. They’ve all bought into our system and it’s working,” said the coach. “We’ve got a very good defense, and that helps a lot. Then, we have a lot of good athletes on the team, so we can get it from defense to offense really fast. That gives us an opportunity to play more offense and score more goals.”
Now, Chase is looking for his team to begin to show consistency as they battle a tough conference schedule. With six games remaining, the Knights (8-3) are still in the running for a home contest, but it won’t be easy.
“For me, it’s just one game at a time right now,” said Chase. “We’ve got Windsor on Tuesday, and that’s all we’re playing for right now. I’m not expecting anything. I just want to win the next game.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.