By John Goralski
With just under 10 seconds remaining in the half, Megan Palumbo stepped between two Trumbull players to scoop up a ground ball. In just a few seconds, it sparked a charge that finnished in the back of Trumbull’s net.
The Golden Eagles had just tried to secure the halftime lead with a goal in the final minute. Less than 30 seconds later, the Lady Knights tied the game again.
With an 11-3 record, the Lady Knights have elbowed their way into the fourth place in the Class L standings. With a strong performance against the top ranked team in the state and a hard-fought battle against Trumbull, the Knights are proving that they belong at the top.
It’s uncharted waters for last year’s non-qualifying team.
“I’m proud of my team,” said first-year coach Jill Pomposi. “From here on out, all of our games are going to be like this. We have to get ready and get comfortable with the pressure. We have to be ready to play all 50 minutes because the teams that we face will be. It’s going to be just like this for the rest of the way.”
In both games last week, Southington held their ground throughout the second half. Against Trumbull, it resulted in a win.
The Golden Eagles built a two-goal lead in the opening minutes of the second half, but Southington rallied back to regain the lead. Carolynn Keal scored three of her of her five goals down the stretch. Alexa Luponio scored all but one of her four scores in the second half, and the Knights capped the game with a 4-0 rally to score an 11-9 victory.
“We’ve been working hard all season, but we haven’t had tons and tons of games where the other team was so similar to us,” said Pomposi. “This was huge. We didn’t play them last year. We’ve seen them in the postseason a few years ago, so we wanted to come out here and play hard. We work too hard to have them come up here and think that this game is theirs.”
Keal and Luponio paced the offense, but six different players contributed to the attack. Laurel Dean scored a goal with one assist. Alexa Mitchell scored a solo shot. Helen Dinnan (2 assists) and Faith Ritchie (assist) led the push, and Allie Abacherli anchored the defense with 17 saves, including 11 in the second half.
“The girls really had to fight,” Pomposi said. “Some times we can get too complacent. We can get too comfortable or lackadaisical about throwing or catching. This was a game that, if we were dropping the ball, they were going to take advantage of it. That’s how they were scoring early. We were getting charge after charge after charge, and they were getting goal after goal after goal from that. Those are the little things that we can’t let happen. That’s one of those things that we have to practice as we play more games like this.”
The game came on the heels of a 17-7 loss to top ranked Glastonbury on Tuesday. Once again, the Knights handled their opponent in the second half. Glastonbury raced out to a 12-2 lead at the break, but Southington matched them down the stretch.
“As a group, we didn’t give up. We gave up a lot of goals, but we weren’t dragging our sticks or playing with our heads down,” Pomposi said. “We didn’t come into it as if they were Glastonbury and we knew that they were going to beat us. We played the whole 50 minutes, and we learned a lot. They were better than us, but we can still hang with them.”
Once again, Keal (4 goals, 1 assist) paced the Knights. Morgan Raymon, Luponio, and Ritchie scored one goal apiece. Jess Lee added an assist, and Abacherli made 11 saves.
Now, the Knights will look to carry the momentum into their final two contests. The girls will travel to Hand (10-3) this week with a home game against Hall (11-3) the following week.
Southington still has a chance to secure home field advantage for the opening rounds of the tournament.
By John Goralski