By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knight lacrosse team all but erased their quick 4-1 start. With three straight losses to Fairfield Ludlowe, Conard, and Pomperaug this week, the Knights enter mid-season at 4-4. This is the first time since the second game of the season that the Knights have fallen to .500.
Southington sustained its first loss of the week at Fairfield Ludlowe (8-2) on Monday, April 27. Southington held off the Falcons early, but fell, 10-3.
“We were up 2-1 at halftime, and they scored nine straight goals on us in the second half,” said Blue Knight coach Ron Chase. “They scored seven on us in the third quarter, and that’s what really kind of put us in the hole.”
Jake Testa led the Knights with two goals and had the only assist on the team. Chris Gamber followed with one goal. Trevor Demilt and Tim MacDonald led the Falcons with three goals apiece.
Dan Saucier had 17 saves for the Knights, and Carter Leibrock had 11 for the Falcons. The Knights had 14 shots on goal to the Falcons’ 27.
Two days later, the Knights welcomed the Conard Chieftains (6-4) to their home field, hoping to turn things around, but would lose the game, 7-6, on what some might say was a controversial call in the final second of the game.
After being down by two goals to start the fourth quarter, the Knights came within one after a late goal by Gamber with just over three minutes to go in the game.
The Knights would get one last opportunity with the possession of the ball in the Chieftains’ zone with the final ticks on the clock. Southington began moving back towards midfield with the ball when a player was pushed to the ground.
He may or may not have been pushed while on the ground before losing possession of the ball, but the referees didn’t make any call.
“We played a good three quarters, but lost in the third quarter after they scored four goals,” the coach said. “We’re not doing the little things right. The effort and hustle are there and we’re not giving up, which is great to see, but we need these guys to start making big plays. We do have a lot of younger players out here and that’s playing a big part in it right now as an experience thing, but they don’t give up and keep playing. Other teams I’ve had would put their heads down and that’s it. These kids kept fighting until the end and you have to give them a lot of credit for that.”
Nick Zukauskas scored three goals for the Knights’ offense and dished out two assists. Austin Abacherli followed with two goals and Gamber with one. Saucier saved 14 shots for the Knights, while Tim Gisher saved 16 for the Chieftains.
The Knights had 22 shots on goal to the Chieftains’ 21.
Once again, Southington hung in strong for most of the game on Friday, but the Pomperaug Panthers (7-1) pulled away late in the game.
The Knights entered the fourth quarter tied with the Panthers, 6-6, but Pomperaug rallied for six straight scores in the final quarter to double their entire output over the first three quarters.
The Panther went on to win the game 12-7, handing the Knights their third consecutive lost on the week.
“The reason why we lost is because we don’t do the little things right. We’ve been preaching over and over again to do the little things right and make the big play. We’re just not doing that,” said Chase. “The reason why the game was 12-7 and not 20-7 is because Dan had a heck of a game in the goal. He gave me a lot of great saves. The guys played hard, we just have to do the little things right.”
Gamber paced the offense with four goals. Testa, Matt Gunderson, and Zukauskas each contributed with a goal. Saucier racked in 22 saves on 34 shot attempts by the Panthers.
The Knights look to get back into contention this week on their home field against the South Windsor Bobcats (6-1).