By John Goralski
In their first meeting last fall, NW Catholic dismantled the Knights for a 6-0 victory. In their second contest, Southington was shut out again. The third meeting came in the postseason, where NW Catholic ended Southington’s fall campaign with a lopsided, 7-0 decision.
On Monday, Sept. 15, the Lady Knights trailed by one goal with 17 minutes remaining.
“I don’t think that the girls realize how competitive we are,” said Lady Knight coach Mike Linehan. “The biggest problem that I think we have is that we psych ourselves out a little bit. I think we looked at NW Catholic as if they were better than us, but I think we can beat them.”
With losses last week against NW Catholic, Farmington, and Hall, the Lady Knights fell to 1-4 overall and 0-4 in the CCC West. Each game was decided by two goals, and that’s the message that Linehan wants his team to learn.
Southington can compete with anybody. With a few more scoring opportunities, the losses can turn into victories.
“Sometimes, we’re so worried that teams will score that we play to that,” the coach said after the 2-0 loss to NW Catholic. “We aren’t as creative or aggressive as we could be. Look at that last 15 minutes when we started to get our mojo back. We went out there and played. That’s what I want them to do.”
Defensively, the Lady Knights have held their own. Margaret Mellitt and Janelle Mangasarian have combined for 29 saves in three losses last week.
The problem is that, during that same three game stretch, the Lady Knights managed just 19 shots on goal. Katie Martocchio managed to score first during a 3-1 loss to Farmington on Wednesday, but the Lady Knights weren’t able to hold on to the lead.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s the best soccer that they’ve seen us play in a really long time,” said Linehan. “It’s coming. It’s just going to take some time.”
He points to the second half of the Farmington game as proof that teams are taking notice. Clinging to a 1-1 tie, the Indians charged onto the field with a different formation to try to counter Southington’s defense.
“I think we showed them in the first half that we could play with anybody,” said the coach. “I think it really put us on the map, and it gave us the confidence that we can play with anybody.”
That was most evident in a 2-0 loss to Hall on Friday. The Warriors manufactured one goal with a 1-on-1 rush in the first half and manufactured another with an opportunistic rush in the second half.
The rest of the game was a tight competition between two even rivals.
“Every game, I see us getting better and better,” said the coach. “I think we’re going to take our bumps and bruises at the start of the year, but you’d better get us early. As we get better as a team, I think we’re going to be tough to beat.”
Now, the Knights will try to begin building momentum with games this week against Simsbury (4-0-1) and Newington (2-3).
“We are going to have to finish the chances that we get, but more importantly we have to get more chances,” said the coach. “They’re coming. I’m seeing little pieces of the game get better and better.”
By John Goralski