By BRIAN JENNINGS
Jen Briscoe poised herself with the ball at the corner and waited for the whistle. She saw Kaylee Graef cross the middle of the field and flung the ball in her direction. Graef received the feed on the inside, and before she could establish possession, met up with a defender.
Both of their sticks collided as they clanged to fight for possession of the ball, but that didn’t stop Graef. She continued dribbling the ball out in front with other defenders closing in.
At the last second, she took her stick back as the goalie came out of the box and slung a shot that broke the paint on the back of the goal with 17:40 to go in the first half.
Graef’s goal might have been the only goal the Lady Knights field hockey team scored on Friday, Oct. 16, but it was just enough to give them a 1-0 home win over Hall (3-6-1), inching them even closer to qualifying for the Class L state tournament.
“Today, the girls played outstanding, even when we went up early,” said Southington coach Erin Luddy. “It was never the prevent defense. They were always attacking and moving. Hall put up a tremendous fight. There were constant corners in a row, but the defense just settled in and kept trying to clear. We never got flustered and eventually got the ball out.”
Southington took four shots on goal in the game and one penalty corner. Hall had their opportunities to score, but Amanda Delorme was there to save all 17 of Hall’s shots on goal, including 14 penalty corners.
“The beginning of the season can be frustrating when you’re facing a lot of very talented teams, and you’re losing,” said Luddy. “We’re a new team and we’re still trying to figure out how every piece works. Today, I think they saw how effective it could be, and how they can have a 1-0 win even if they’re playing a lot of defense.”
Earlier in the week on Tuesday, Southington hosted Simsbury (7-3-0) in a 3-0 loss.
The Trojans scored two of their goals in the first half and one in the second. The Knights took five shots on goal and seven penalty corners.
Delorme saved 21 of Simsbury’s 24 shots on goal. Simsbury had 11 penalty corners in the game.
The win over Hall moved Southington to 3-8-0 on the season, and with four games left in the regular season, the Knights need three games to advance to the state tournament. Southington will try to do so when they host Farmington (7-2-0) on Tuesday, Oct. 20, East Catholic (1-8-0) on Friday, Oct. 23, NW Catholic (5-5-0) on Tuesday, Oct. 27, and hit the road for E.O. Smith (1-9-1) on Thursday, Oct. 29 in their regular season finale.
With a well-blended team of about five sophomore, five juniors, and five seniors, Luddy said that her girls are getting a lot more opportunities, and with those opportunities, are more confident in their play.
“The mindset is one game at a time,” said Luddy. “We’ll see how we do and go from there.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.