By John Goralski
Tom Gallagher picked apart the Newington defense with five goals and four assists while Indian defenders hog-tied Kevin Cop at the net. On Tuesday, May 14, Southington’s offensive depth was put to the test as Newington held Cop to just one score in the regular season finale.
All season, this has been a question for Coach Ron Chase. He’s never questioned the depth of his defense, but could the offense overcome a strong defensive effort?
Unleash the freshman.
With Gallagher carrying the load adn Cop swallowed up by defenders, Liam Delahunty sprinted onto the field in his first varsity contest. When the dust settled on the game, Delahunty had collected five Blue Knight goals.
As the Knights prepare to make an unprecedented postseason run, Delahunty was just what the doctor ordered.
“Kevin Cop’s usually good for three or four goals a game. Gallagher did a good job, and he’s playing really well right now, but our freshman really stepped up,” said Chase. “He was huge for us, and I was really proud of him. We have a lot of things to fix. It was an ugly game today, but we found a way to win.”
The game came on the heels of an 11-5 win over South Windsor on Tuesday. Gallagher scored four times. Jared DeFeo and Cop scored two goals apiece. Alexander Jamele, Nick Terry, and Will Thompson each scored, while Brian Mahon collected eight saves to get their 10th win.
The Knights are closing in on uncharted territory. With victories over South Windsor and Newington in the final week of the season, the Knights have secured the No. 7 seed in the upcoming Class L tournament.
At 12-4, they are tied with perennial powers like Greenwich and Xavier, and the Knights are just one game behind proven programs like Simsbury, Staples, and Fairfield Prep.
“We had four losses, so we didn’t accomplish all our goals,” Chase said with a laugh. “Any season that has double digit wins is a good one. It’s going to be nice to get a home game. It’s nice to get into our conference tournament as the No. 3 seed. That’s a huge accomplishment.”
The Knights have been there before. They’ve lost first round contests in the CCC tournament. They’ve earned home tournament games in 2005 and 2009, but both ended in a first round elimination.
But Southington finally broke through with a first round victory in 2011, and Chase hopes to raise the bar this spring. That’s why he wants his team to stay focused on the conference tournament.
“That’s all I want them to think about right now,” he said. “The fact that we get to play again is great for us. We’re going to keep practicing the way we’ve been practicing. Some teams may not get a good practice in over the next week and a half, but we’re going to keep getting after it.”
The real test begins now.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.