By John Goralski
Coach Dave Yanosy approached the team huddle with a wide grin. With two second half goals, they scored their first victory over Hall in years. With two wins last week, they’ve already broken last year’s totals for wins and goals.
Yanosy drank in his team’s excitement for a few seconds before calling for silence. “I still don’t think that we’ve seen our best soccer yet,” he said to his team after a 2-0 win over Hall.
What a difference a year makes.
“Sometimes that’s the mark of a really good team—especially in our league—that we can still win games without playing our best soccer,” he said. “But we really dug down deep in the second half. We had a couple of really good individual efforts on the goals from Dan Connolly and Eric Schneider, and our defense did a really good job like they’ve been doing all year.”
At 3-2, the boys soccer team is enjoying their winning record after being mired in two losing seasons, but Yanosy won’t be happy until his team regains their spot in the postseason brackets.
Sure, he’s happy with the win over Hall after getting shut out twice last season. Sure, he’s happy with the win over NW Catholic at the start of the week after being out-scored, 7-1, in two games last year, but he isn’t ready to rest on his team’s laurels.
“I’m cautiously optimistic. I’ve been gaining optimism over the first few weeks of this season, but our work is by no means done,” he said. “We have an extremely tough league and a really tough schedule from here on out, so we really can’t take any breaks. We have to continue doing what we’re doing and continue to get positive results on the field.”
Still, winning’s a lot more fun, and Southington’s never-die attitude is reminiscent of past seasons.
It was the catalyst in a 2-1 comeback against NW Catholic at the start of the week. On Monday, Sept. 16, the Indians took a 1-0 lead into the half. In previous seasons, Southington would have tried to keep the game close in the second half.
This year, they won.
Ian Powell opened the second half with a 40-yard punt that skipped into the goal untouched to knot the game, 1-1. Ten minutes later, Kyle Sisco fought off two defenders, battled into the open space, and scored the game winner.
NW Catholic out-shot the Knights, 9-8, but Brian Falco collected seven saves to secure the comeback win.
“We’re finding the back of the net. I’d like to find it more often, especially early, but this is a good confidence builder,” said Yanosy. “We were able to come from behind and get a win, and that’s tough to do. NW Catholic is a very strong team. To respond the way that we did in the second half is certainly promising.”
But Yanosy pointed to his team’s lack of production in the early minutes of the game. Southington dominated the opening minutes but fell behind in the opening half.
“We’ve come out really well in all of our games so far, but we haven’t gotten a goal in the first 10 minutes yet. It’s great to see the intensity coming out, but it would be nice to take off some of the pressure by getting a goal,” he said. “If we play the way we did in the second half but put it together for 80 minutes, we’ll be in every game with some of those perennial powers.”
It certainly would have helped against Farmington on Wednesday. The defending Class L champions peppered the Knights with 19 shots at Tunxis Mead Park in Farmington. Southington held on for a scoreless tie at the break, but Farmington rallied for thee goals in the second half to secure a 3-0 win.
On Friday, it looked like a carbon copy until Southington scored their second half rally to earn the victory over Hall.
“I think that these types of wins are important for our team because, over the last couple of years, we haven’t beaten these teams,” said Yanosy. “I’ve been trying to tell them is not to worry about the name on the jersey. It’s a new year and a new season. Those teams are different, and we’re different than we’ve been in the last couple of years. I think it’s important to know that, and I hope that wins like this will go a long way to proving that.”
Can the Knights continue their charge with games this week against Simsbury (2-2-1) and Newington (2-2)? At 2-2 in the conference, the Knights are right in the mix behind Farmington.
Is this the year that Southington makes a run at the conference? Can they not only compete, but win? That’s the question that Yanosy wants his team to be asking. The answers will come.
“I’ve said it since the beginning of the season,” said Yanosy, “I’m cautiously optimistic.”
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By John Goralski