By JOHN GORALSKI
Opposing fans were left with their mouths wide open in surprise as the Lady Knight offense picked them apart with a record-setting 419 passing yards in two games. New Britain’s high-scoring offense was left scratching their heads as Southington’s rush held them to just 110 yards of total offense.
Southington beat New Britain by shutout. They never trailed against Cheshire in game two as the Knights surged for their fourth consecutive win in the series. For the second time in program history, the Lady Knight powder puff team finished with two wins and no losses.
If you blinked, you missed them. The Class of 2015 was that good.
“A team like this comes around once in 14 years,” said Southington coach Charles Kemp. “We had two games in 24 hours, and we just hope for the best. I’m so proud of them.”
Southington came out swinging, and Kaitlin Paterson landed the knock-out punch. The Lady Knight passer opened the scoring in game one with a 59-yard touchdown throw to Lexi Rothtstein in the waning minutes of the opening half. Paterson put the game out of reach at the start of the third quarter with a 34-yard strike to Danielle Ahern.
On Monday, Nov. 24, the Knights opened the annual series with a 14-0 win over New Britain on Fontana Field. Jessica Goralski ran for 25 yards. Emily Lippincott scrambled for 21, but it was the passing game that proved to be the difference.
New Britain converted just two of seven passes for 13 yards in the air, and Southington countered with a 93-yard attack.
“All the credit goes to Southington,” said New Britain coach Carlos Pina. “They were more aggressive than my girls tonight. I don’t know why that was, but they deserve this great fought victory.”
Kemp said it was no accident. Southington’s defense held the Hurricanes under 100 yards rushing (97 yard) for the first time in series history. Southington’s running backs ate away the clock, and the passing game proved too much to handle.
Sara Ritondo paced the blitz with nine defensive flags. Alexa Luponio scored seven, and Maryssa Romano added four. Carissa Sirois caught an interception and Southington defenders scrambled for 33 flags in the contest. New Britain couldn’t find a way to penetrate Southington’s secondary.
“With as fast as New Britain is and their ability to take away the outside, we just kept trying to plug away on offense and try to get the ball downfield on them,” said the coach. “I have to give it up to our defense. Every time that New Britain got some momentum underneath them, our defense was able to just stymie them. It feels great.”
The Knights were far from finished. On Tuesday, the Knights exploded for two touchdowns and an interception in the second quarter to snap a scoreless tie, and Southington cruised to a 28-12 win over Cheshire. The Knights led by as many as 22 points before Cheshire scored their second touchdown in the final seconds of the game.
Southington set the tone with their defense. Haley Arduini anchored the blitz with seven flags. Jenna Chubet captured six flags, while Ritondo and Romano rallied for five flags apiece. Cheshire finished the game with 230 yards of total offense, but the Lady Knights held the Rams to just 87 yards in the opening half. Arduini and Sirois came away with interceptions.
“Our defense was great. In two games, we gave up 12 points, and that’s kind of amazing,” said Kemp. “Our offense got their feet underneath them. In both games, it seemed like our offense had to get the butterflies out, but once we did we did a great job.”
Once again, the Knights attacked their opponent in the air. Lippincott (3 catches, 130 yards) opened the scoring with an 86-yard reception and put the game out of reach with a 31-yard touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter. Goralski (32 yards rushing, 30 yards receiving) made a 10-yard catch for her first score and ran in another one from five yards out.
Southington kickers Adalain Meier and Lippincott combined to make all six extra point kicks over the two-game series.
“Momentum is everything,” said Kemp. “One thing that Cheshire has the ability to do every year is march down the field on us. If we let them do it once, they will do it again and again and again. We had to get them out of the game early and squash their hopes. That’s what we did.”
Once again, Paterson was the difference. The senior thrower converted five of 12 passes for 160 yards and four touchdowns. Cheshire had no answer.
“I’ve never seen a girl like that. She has a rocket for an arm, and it was unreal,” said Rams coach George Gilhuly. “They beat us on four plays. Otherwise, we win this game. They couldn’t get past our defense except for the bomb. That girl can throw.”
With the victories, Southington improved to 12-10-1 overall. New Britain still leads their series, 4-2, but the Knights pushed their lead over Cheshire to 6-10-1.
Win or lose, Kemp said that the series is always a success. New Britain uses it as a senior class fundraiser to help students cover the cost of prom and senior activities. Cheshire uses the program to build teamwork and community involvement as players donate time toward the Special Olympics, handing out gifts to veterans, and sponsoring a veteran’s breakfast.
Southington uses the series to promote teamwork and school spirit within their senior class. It has become a good fundraiser for improving technology advancements in the school, and a way to kick off senior activities.
“We have a lot of different girls. Some play rugby. We play a lot of different sports, but we come together for this football team,” said Paterson. “We don’t a have a varsity football program, but this helps us come together as a class. We knew that we had to have fun and work hard at the same time. This is our senior year. We know that we want to have fun, but it’s hard work.”