By John Goralski
Allie Abacherli’s first goal was answered before the break by a pair of South Windsor scores. Abacherli’s second goal came during a 30-minute defensive stand that kept the Bobcats off the board for the entire second half.
Her third goal was something special.
With nine seconds left in overtime, Isabella DiBattista’s shot ricocheted off the goalie and bounced a few feet in front of the cage. Abacherli led the second wave, and her score signaled a 3-2 win.
With two games to go in the regular season, the Lady Knight field hockey team had already earned a share of the conference title, but the Southington squad was far from finished.
“It was an epic win,” said Lady Knight coach Erin Luddy. “South Windsor was the only other undefeated team in the conference. We guaranteed at least a tie for the conference title, and a win over Maloney on Monday will clinch it.”
The Lady Knight raced into their final week as they scrambled to cap their breakout season. It started with a 2-0 win over EO Smith on Tuesday, Oct. 21. It continued with the overtime win in South Windsor on Wednesday. Even a 2-1 loss to Hall on Thursday couldn’t stop the momentum as the Knights rallied for their first 10-win season with a 3-0 victory over Maloney in the regular season finale.
Kelsey Snodgrass opened the scoring in the first half, and DiBattista sparked the scoring in the second. Abacherli scrambled for a goal and two assists, and the Knights capped their autumn campaign with a conference shutout of Maloney.
“It was a big year, but we knew how good we were and what we wanted to accomplish,” said Luddy. “That South Windsor game was just sort of surreal, and to top it off with a win on senior night is incredible. There’s no share of the conference title or anything. We are really excited. We knew that we could do it, and we just went out there and did it.”
The final surge began in Storrs on Tuesday. DiBattista scrambled for two goals, and Jess Lee led the way with two assists. Natalie Liquindoli collected seven saves as the Knights rallied for their sixth shutout of the season.
The next day was the overtime win at South Windsor, but Southington ran into a brick wall the following day. Hall (10-3) scored in both halves. Abacherli scored for the Knights off an assist by Snodgrass, but it wasn’t enough. Liquindoli made five saves, but the Knights fell, 2-1, in the inter-divisional rivalry.
Southington answered on Monday with their seventh shutout of the season against Maloney. With the victory, the Knights capped a perfect 7-0 record in the CCC East and improved to 10-6 overall. The victory marked the first time that Southington enters the postseason with 10 regular season wins since 1999 (10-1-4). Three times since, the Knights have finished with nine victories, but their only postseason win came in 2004 with a 2-1 overtime win in Farmington.
“We just need to have the confidence in ourselves that I know that we deserve, and we have to continue to play,” said Luddy. “Anything’s possible in the tournament. All the records are wiped away, and it comes down to what you can do in 60 minutes. We can be outstanding, and we can play with anyone.”
Tournament pairings will be released on Friday, Oct. 31 at www.ciacsports.com. The first round is scheduled to begin on Monday, Nov. 3.
“Most teams still have one or two more games to play this week because the last day isn’t until the 30th, but we already know that we’re playing on Monday at home,” said Luddy. “It was one of our goals this year. We wanted the opportunity to play a home game, and that’s exactly what we did. I’m proud of the girls.”
By John Goralski