By Jon Goralski
Lauren Zazzaro charged the cage. Allie Abacherli converted the goal, and Coach Erin Luddy breathed a sigh of relief. On Tuesday, Oct. 14, East Catholic’s second year program battled the Knights in a scoreless tied for more than a full quarter, but Abacherli’s goal opened the gates.
Over the next 10 minutes, Southington rallied for three unanswered scores. Midway through the second half, Abacherli scored again, and Luddy turned to her bench.
The 4-0 win clinched the postseason with almost two weeks to go. It’s the earliest that Southington has ever clinched a tournament berth.
“I was a little worried about being too passive and hanging back at first. We started off a little slow, but we certainly picked it up going into halftime,” said Luddy. “Knowing that we are playing in the tournament before the last day of the season gives us confidence. It completes one of our goals this season, and it begins a belief that we are a good team that can win…no matter the opponent.”
The starters contributed the scoring. Abacherli scored twice. Zazzaro had a goal with two assists. Kaylee Graef scored once. Hallie Altwies earned an assist, and Luddy began to filter in her bench.
Now, the team gets to shift gears as they look to improve their seeding and build their depth.
“We held back a little in the second half, and that let me get in some of my other players,” said Luddy. “It’s so great to be able to get girls into a varsity game like this. To have five games left in the season, to be in the tournament, and not have to worry about it any more is great. Now, we have more opportunities to get even more girls involved in the varsity game. We haven’t had an opportunity like this before, but I hope it continues.”
Southington couldn’t continue their momentum on Friday with a 2-1 loss to NW Catholic. Abacherli gave the Knights a 1-0 lead at the break, but NW Catholic capitalized on the grass field to manufacture two goals after the break.
Even with the loss, Southington (7-5) is in control of their own destiny. They’ll have a chance to take control of the conference race against EO Smith on Tuesday as they prepare for their final push.
By Jon Goralski