By BRIAN JENNINGS
Erik Schneider brought the ball up just outside of the penalty box, swung his foot around, and booted it into the net with 22:15 to go in the first half. The goal gave the Blue Knights (2-0-1, 2-0-1 in division) the lead, but Southington was far from finished.
Senior captain, Ryan Burrill placed the ball just outside the penalty box with a red wall of defenders blocking his view of the goal. Burrill took a few steps back, then charged the ball with velocity, releasing a curling, zooming kick over the defenders’ heads to the top left corner of the goal with 27:55 left in the second half.
Burrill’s free kick sealed the deal for the Knights in their 2-0 home win over Conard (1-2, 1-2 in division) on Friday, Sept. 18. Southington coach Dave Yanosy said that Burrill’s goal in the second half took some pressure off of the team going down the stretch in the second half.
“He can hit those,” said Yanosy. “He had a couple in the preseason. He has the ability to do that. He’s a really good player, fantastic player, and good leader. Even in the end of the game, it’s little things like playing the ball in the corner to kill an extra 30 or 40 seconds instead of giving it back to them.”
Burrill has scored two goals in the three games that the Knights have played thus far on the season, which is the most on the team.
“I have the best support that we could get,” said Burrill. “The back line of me, Parker, Kieran, and Mike were pretty solid. We work well together. We never stop working. That’s the biggest thing, I think, that keeps us going. We go in hard, and that’s what Yano’ [Yanosy] teaches us. We just have to keep working hard and never give up.”
Conard defeated the Knights twice during last year’s regular season (5-0 at home and 3-0 at Conard), but this year’s Knights team proves to be different than other teams in years past.
“It’s been about three years since we’ve beaten them,” said Yanosy. “I know Conard’s coach [Adam Linker] and he’s a really good coach. He’s had some fantastic teams over the last couple of years. We knew that it was going to be, by no means, an easy day for us. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was a really gritty effort by our team.”
The Knights have not lost a game in their first three tries and goalie Evan Daddona has not given up a goal in his first three starts either. Daddona saved 16 of Conard’s 19 shots on goal for the Knights. The Knights took eight shots on goal (Burrill with two). Nick Falco had an assist.
“In the first half, I thought we came out very well,” said Yanosy. “They were playing a high line in the back that kind of gave us some opportunities, and we were able to cash in on one of them. I told the guys at halftime that they were, by no means, going to lie down and die for us. They [Conard] played well in the second half and gave us all we could handle.”
A couple days earlier on Wednesday, the Knights traveled to Tunxis Mead Park, where they drew a 0-0 tie against Farmington (2-0-1) in overtime. Daddona saved all 12 of Farmington’s shots on goal. The Knights took nine shots on goal.
“We’re not satisfied with anything,” said Burrill. “After the Farmington game, we were kind of pissed off. We knew that we could do better and get a better result. So, that fires us up every single game. We know that we have to come out with a result every single game.”
The Knights are currently sitting in third place in the Blue Division of the Central Region behind Glastonbury (3-0, 3-0 in division) and Simsbury (3-0, 2-0 in division).
“Today kind of cemented what we did on Wednesday,” said Yanosy. “If we’d come out today and lost 2-0 or 3-0, Wednesday probably would’ve meant less. To get through this week with two, really, tough opponents, certainly bodes well for us moving forward.”
With a full week to prepare for their next contest, the Knights hope that the momentum doesn’t slow. Southington looks to build on their successful start when they travel to Simsbury on Friday, Sept. 25 and NW Catholic (0-2-1) on Monday, Sept. 28.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.