By John Goralski
Jared DeFeo had just a few ticks of the clock to make a decision. Should he try to force the ball back to Southington’s scorer or take a shot himself?
With 15 seconds left, the Knights crafted a set play during a timeout. The first chance failed. DeFeo’s didn’t.
Southington has already proven that they can win a lopsided battle. On Tuesday, April 22 they proved they could win a tight one.
DeFeo’s goal with two seconds remaining lifted the Knights past NW Catholic for a 14-13 win.
“We got a shot off on our set play, and we were able to get the ball back,” said Blue Knight coach Ron Chase. “We wanted to get the ball back to Kevin Cop, but Jared wasn’t able to do that. He took it upon himself to take the shot, and that was a big play.”
For the first time this season, Southington was deadlocked in a see saw battle. The Indians led by two after one period. The Knights tied the game at the break. The teams jockeyed for position throughout much of the second half until DeFeo put the game out of reach.
DeFeo finished with a hat trick. Kevin Cop had four goals with two assists. Jarod Florian scored five times in the victory, while Chris Gamber and Alex Jamele chipped in one goal apiece.
Brian Mahon made 13 saves to secure the victory.
“It was a shootout. They have one of the better offenses that we have seen, but our offense was able to match them,” said Chase. “We were able to use the fact that our defense was better than theirs. We were down some guys, but we were able to make some big plays at the end of the game.”
The celebration was short-lived. The following night, Southington lost to their Simsbury nemesis once again. The Trojans beat the Knights three times last season, including tournament wins in both the conference and state brackets.
On Wednesday, they did it again. Simsbury’s deliberate offense picked apart the Knights in a low-scoring game of keep-away.
“We kept it tight for a while, but we always seem to struggle offensively against this team,” said Chase. “There’s only so much defense that you can play. It all came down to not being able to finish on offense. Yesterday it was the opposite. Yesterday, our offense took over when our defense wasn’t playing well. We still have to put a full game together.”
Simsbury clung to a 2-1 lead at the break but pulled away in the second half. The Trojans scored twice in the second period and six times in the third to pull away with a 10-4 win.
Jamele scored twice. Cop and DeFeo scored once, but Simsbury out-shot the Knights 23-7. Mahon made 17 saves in the loss.
“We did not do a good job possessing the ball or handling the ball today,” said Chase. “They have an excellent defense. They pressure a lot, but we have to work on these sorts of teams.”
Southington bounced back in the week’s finale with a 9-4 win at Conard on Saturday. DeFeo scored five times. Cop scored two goals with three assists. Gamber and Florian scored solo goals.
Southington was tied, 2-2, at the half, but out-scored the Cheiftains, 7-2, after the break. Mahon made 20 saves to score the win.
The Knights have a chance to clinch a tournament berth this week at Pomperaug (3-4) or at home against Xavier (4-2) on Thursday.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.