By John Goralski
Southington outscored opponents in every half last week. For 160 minutes in regulation, the Lady Knight soccer team held opponents off the board.
Since cruising by Platt, 5-1, in the season opener, the Lady Knights have struggled with a six-game losing streak that stretches back to Sept. 12. But a 4-0 win over New Britain snapped the streak, and a 5-0 victory over Windsor proved it was no fluke.
Now, the Knights (3-6) are refocused on their postseason goals.
“I think that, this week, we definitely turned things around, and I’m hopeful,” said Lady Knight coach Mike Linehan. “When you’re practicing so long but you aren’t successful, I think you start to doubt yourself. Hopefully, they’ve gained back that level of confidence this week to be able to go back to the CCC West and see what we can do.”
Sarah Palko opened the scoring in both contests with two first half goals in both contests and a second half assist against Windsor, but she wasn’t alone.
Jess Goralski score a goal in each of the first three halves and capped the streak with a second half assist against Windsor. Nikki Carter, Ariana Gazaferi, and Emily Maciejewski earned assists against New Britain, while Adalaine Meier and Erin Angelillo collected asssists against Windsor.
Gazaferi exploded in the second game with two goals and two assists as Southington switched up their possession-style attack with a more direct style.
“It was much more direct, but we had a different attitude as well,” said Linehan. “We talked a lot about it, and nobody’s going to come into our turf and do what teams have done to us over the last two weeks. We have a little bit more passion about believing in ourselves and who we are.”
Defensively, the team was perfect, allowing just one shot against New Britain and four against Windsor. Margaret Mellitt and Janelle Mangassarian combined for just five saves but came away with a pair of shutout wins.
“It starts from the goal out, and I have been very pleased with what the two of them have been doing,” said Linehan. “I hope we use this for the confidence that we need to go into next week. We’ve got just a totally different attitude, and I’m really happy about that.”
Now, the girls will look to change their fortunes in conference play as they begin the second round of CCC West opponents.
It won’t get easier with matchups this week against Conard (5-4), NW Catholic (6-3), and Farmington (5-2-2), but Linehan expects his team to rise to the challenge. The first time around, Southington were out-scored 7-1 in three losses, but Linehan expects things to change in the rematch.
“I’ve been saying it since the beginning. You had better get us early,” he said. “We’ve got our confidence back, and I think things are going to be different.”
By John Goralski