By BRIAN JENNINGS
On Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Blue Knights boys soccer team battled through the rain to snap a four-year postseason drought. On Tuesday, Nov. 10, the No. 12 Knights captured their first Class LL tournament victory since 2010 with a 3-1 win in the first round over No. 21 NFA (9-7-0).
Bryan Doyle wasted no time and put Southington on the board first with a goal (assisted by Dan Topper) 55 seconds into the game from outside of the penalty box.
Erik Schneider added to the Knights lead with a goal (assisted by Topper) that was kicked in off the back of his heel with 1:47 left in the first half.
Schneider returned to assist Erik Kryzanski with Southington’s third goal from outside of the penalty box, 51 seconds into the second half. NFA’s only goal of the game came minutes later off of a corner kick that was booted from the middle of the field on a slow roller outside of the penalty box.
The Knights took 13 shots on goal and eight corner kicks. Evan Daddona saved three of NFA’s nine shots on goal as Southington returned to the postseason with a bang.
Blue Knight coach Dave Yanosy gave credit to his seniors for being a big part of their success in helping to end their playoff absence.
“These eight seniors flipped the script. The last four classes before them had been on the brink and weren’t able to get that last point or two to get into the tournament. I can’t say enough about what these guys did,” said the coach. “It’s certainly a fantastic year, and I owe a lot to the seniors for that.”
Despite the victory, Southington’s postseason run came to a close a couple days later on Thursday when they fell short, 4-0, to No.28-seed Bridgeport Central (8-8-3) at home on another wet day.
“We obviously saw what they [Bridgeport Central] did on Tuesday against East Hartford,” said Yanosy. “We were able to see them play a little bit, and we certainly knew coming in that the seeds meant nothing at this point. All it meant was we were going to play at home, which we obviously liked. But at the same time, having seen East Hartford play this year and knowing the team that they were, having knocked off Glastonbury and having a nice run, we knew that they were going to be a really good team. To see that result, we knew that they were going to be a really good team.”
The Hilltoppers scored two goals midway through the first half and two goals midway through the second, both about five minutes apart from each other.
“When we were 2-0 down, we were in that same exact scenario on Tuesday. We talked about getting the next goal,” said Yanosy. “So realistically, the idea was the same thing. We thought hey, let’s get it back to 2-1. If we can get it back to 2-1, put some pressure on them, and make it interesting down the stretch, we thought we’d be in good shape.”
When the ball was in Bridgeport Central’s end, Southington saw scoring opportunities off of their set pieces and from headers and one-timers that flew just wide of the post. Close scoring chances came early in the game when Schneider had the ball inside of the box with a chance to score off of his heel again. Ryan Burrill also had a good look at the goal from outside of the box that seemed to sneak through everyone, but the goalkeeper on a great save.
“I would love to see what would have happened if one of those went in, and we’re playing with a lead,” the coach said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t and they got the first one off of a miss-clearance. From there, they gained confidence and momentum.”
The Knights took 11 shots on goal and four corner kicks. Daddona saved five of Bridgeport Central’s 18 shots on goal.
“I would be lying to say that I expected to lose 4-0 today,” said Yanosy. “They certainly proved it. They’re a really fast, quick, dynamic team. They have some really dangerous players. They finished their opportunities today and deserved to win.”
Although Bridgeport Central defeated the Knights in the second round, their road to the finals also would come to a halt, but not by a loss. On Monday, Nov. 16 around noon, the director of media and sports information for the CIAC, Joel Cookson, released this statement:
“Due self-report of the use of an ineligible player, Bridgeport Central has been disqualified from the CIAC Class LL Boys Soccer Tournament. Per CIAC by-laws, Hall High School, Bridgeport Central’s quarterfinal opponent, will now play in their place against Glastonbury High School in a semifinal match November 18 at a site and time to be
Per CIAC by-laws ‘when it is discovered that a team has used an ineligible competitor in a CIAC team tournament, the tournament game/match shall be forfeited. The team using the ineligible player will be
disqualified from the tournament and that team’s last opponent will advance in its place. Teams eliminated prior to the last opponent will not be permitted to re-enter the tournament.’
Bridgeport Central self-reported use of the ineligible player which was discovered after its 1-0 victory against Hall in a quarterfinal match on November 14.”
No.1-seed Glastonbury (16-2-0) will take on No.13-seed Hall (14-4-1) at Middletown High School on Wednesday, Nov. 18 in the top half of the semifinals. In the lower half, No.7-seed Farmington (15-2-2) is set to square off against No.11-seed Darien (13-1-5) at Naugatuck High School on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The JV soccer team finished their regular season strong, and Yanosy said that he has a lot of confidence in his young guys coming up.
“We play a handful of sophomores and have a couple of freshmen as well,” the Knights coach said. “With that said, the future looks bright, and we’re really excited about the prospects of next year, in terms of maintaining this current level.”
Southington’s fall campaign came to a close. The Knights finished with a 12-4-2 record.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.