By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Southington Blue Knights boys lacrosse team kicked off their season with a home opener that resulted in a 7-6 overtime win over the Cheshire Rams (1-2) in the freezing rain on Wednesday night, April 8.
But, for most of the game, it didn’t look like the Knights stood a chance. Southington didn’t find the back of the cage until just moments before the end of the first half, and Southington entered the halftime break trailing the Rams, 4-1.
“We were doing the little things wrong,” said Southington coach Ron Chase. “All Cheshire’s goals were self-inflicted. We had a personnel mix-up at the beginning of the game. Little things, like dropping passes and not running the offense right, were hurting us. For 90 percent of these guys, it’s their first time in a varsity uniform.”
On the other hand, the goal seemed to awaken the Knights. Southington continued where they left off and stormed back in the second half with five goals, eventually sending the game into overtime.
With 40.8 seconds left in overtime, Jake Testa started out on the left side with the ball in Cheshire’s attack area. Testa quickly drove toward the right side of the net, spun off of a defender to the left side, and slung it in there for the winning goal to give the Knights the win and help kick off the season with a 1-0 record.
“Once they figured out what it takes to win a game, guys stepped up,” the coach said. “To come back from 4-0 is a testament to each one of these kids. We know that there’s not just one superstar on the team like there was in the past. Everyone has to pull their own weight and they did tonight. Every game is big, but his is a huge game every year. Cheshire is our rival and this is the 23rd time that we’ve played them now. It’s always a sweet taste in your mouth when you beat Cheshire.”
Testa and Liam Delahunty led the Knights with two goals each. Chris Gamber, Nick Zukaukas, and Tyler Roesker each had a goal. Matt Blois led the Rams with three goals. Jack Raba led the Rams with two assists.
The Knights had 20 shots to the Rams 29. Dan Saucier had 23 saves for the Knights to Austin Ingarra’s 13 for the Rams.
The celebration didn’t last long. The Knights tried to carry the momentum from Wednesday night’s game into Saturday’s road matchup against the Norwalk Bears (1-1). However, the Knights suffered their first loss of the season, 9-3.
Nick Zukauskas led the Knights with two goals and one assist. Jake Walczak followed with a goal. Saucier had nine saves for the Knights, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Bears. Norwalk took a 6-3 lead into the half and out-scored Southington, 3-0, down the stretch.
Now, the Knights (1-1) will look to get back on the winning track this week with a Wednesday game against RHAM (1-1).
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.