By John Goralski
Jess Lee fed Allie Abacherli in a blitzkrieg assault in the opening minutes of the game. Just a minute and a half later, Abacherli fed Lee to give the Lady Knight field hockey team a 2-0 advantage.
On Friday, Sept. 12, Southington didn’t look like a team that had just been shut out in their season opener as they picked apart Newington for an easy 4-0 victory, but a loss on opening day to one of the state’s biggest powers can boost confidence as much as any win.
“We knew that Glastonbury was going to be really strong [on opening day], so we knew that we wouldn’t be able to get a really good measure off of them, but we also knew that we had to come right back,” said Lady Knight coach Erin Luddy. “This effort lets me know that we can really be a contender this year.”
The Lady Knights opened their week with a win and a loss, and that has Luddy excited about her team’s potential. It’s one of the fastest starts in years, as the girls try to turn the corner this fall.
On Tuesday, the girls opened the season with a 3-0 loss against Glastonbury, which showcased Southington’s strong defense. Natalie Liquindoli collected 17 saves in her debut, but the offense managed just two shots on goal against one of the top defenses in the state.
“Defensively, we knew that we would be on the ball a lot because of their deep talent,” said Luddy. “Natalie played phenomenally. We knew that it was going to be a tough game. We just couldn’t get enough shots on offense to balance it out.”
That’s why Luddy was so pleased with the quick scoring in game two. Southington scored twice in each half and dominated possession throughout the game.
“After the struggles we had with Glastonbury, we’ve been working on our stick work,” said the coach. “Our offense has always hindered us a little over the last few years, so it was nice to score early, often, and stay in control.”
Luddy said that she was most impressed with her team’s ball control in the second game. Early in the second half, the Knights nearly scored on a one-time crossing pass. A few minutes later, Isabella DiBattista connected with Lauren Zazzaro on a penalty corner to make it 3-0. DiBattista connected with Alexa Zbororowski to cap the scoring with over seven minutes remaining. Luddy was pleased with the balanced attack.
“We know that it’s not going to be enough to score a goal and sit back,” she said. “It was good to see us attacking and attacking. We were ready to play today. We were excited about this game. We knew that it was going to be a win, and having that positive outlook is a huge benefit. Then, it was nice to see us go out and win it.”
With the victory, Southington improved to 1-1. The Knights will try to continue to build momentum against Sheehan on Wednesday. With a victory, Southington will move above .500 for the first time since early 2011.
“I’m not really too sure about them because it’s an out-of-conference game,” said Luddy, “But it’s our field. It’s our turf, and the girls are ready to go.”
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By John Goralski