By John Goralski
For 13 minutes of the second half, the Lady Knight lacrosse team clung to a 7-6 lead, and South Windsor threw everything they had at the problem. They rushed from the outside. They surged up the middle, but it was Southington that would finally break the drought.
With 3:03 remaining, the Bobcat goalie dropped the ball in front of the net. Morgan Raymond pounced on it like a cat and managed to squeeze it into the open net. In a highly contested game on the Southington turf, the home team found a way to win.
“That was definitely a key to this game, but I think it represented the whole game and the way we’ve been playing,” said Lady Knight coach Jill Pomposi. “It was a very scrappy game. Rebounds were huge. The 50-50 balls were huge. It was just a matter of not giving up when a ball’s on the ground. She beat her to it and scored. It was crazy.”
Southington is beginning to turn heads as the wins continue to pile up. They’ve already clinched a postseason bid. They are right in the middle of the conference race, and the once beleaguered Knights have rolled out to a 10-2 record.
With three weeks to go in the regular season, Southington is tied for fourth place in the Class L standings.
“We’ve been playing really well and working really hard,” said Pomposi. “I think everybody’s starting to feel that we have the skills, the heart, and the intensity to win. Now, we just have to keep it up. We’re going to continue focusing one day at a time, one game at a time, and one possession at a time. We’re going to keep giving it 100 percent for every ground ball, shot, or slide.”
It’s a recipe that has paid off for the Lady Knights. On any given day, any one can score. Against South Windsor, it was Raymond leading the way with a hat trick. In a 14-7 victory over Windsor at the start of the week, it was a balanced attack with 10 different players contributing to the final score. In a 13-11 win over Hamden at the end of the week, it was a three-pronged attack led by Carolynn Keal (5 goals, 1 assist) with three assist apiece by Alexa Luponio and Raymond.
For the first time in years the Knights have a balanced attack, and it’s proving too much for most opponents to handle.
“It’s so good to see so many people involved. It’s so good for our team,” said Pomposi. “Now, there are so many more people for a defense to watch. They can no longer just worry about one or two girls. I’ve been watching everybody get more and more comfortable in their roles on the team, and that’s been great to see.”
But Southington has proven to be much more than a one-dimensional scoring attack. The Lady Knight defense has been better than ever. They’ve held teams in single digits in all but two contests this year. In the early season they scored a shutout, and that’s unheard of in girls lacrosse.
In all three victories last week, Southington defenders held opponents to three goals or less in the second half. Goaltender Allie Abacherli has been dominant, collecting 38 saves to score three wins. For 13 minutes of the second half, Southington’s defense held South Windsor scoreless as the Knights tried to manufacture the final score.
“It was so amazing,” said Pomposi. “We played so solid as a group. We didn’t get too many calls against us, but when we did Allie stepped up. She was able to clear it to transition, and we were able to hold them off.”
Now, the Knights will face their biggest test of the regular season as the conference race heats up.
Southington will measure themselves against top ranked Glastonbury (10-0) on Tuesday. They’ll host Trumbull (4-7-1) in a non-conference game at the end of the week. Southington will wrap up the season against Hand (9-2) and Hall (8-3) down the stretch as the girls get ready to face their final test.
“It’s really exciting,” said Pomposi.
The Lady Knights are ready to rumble.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.