By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knights (3-2) dropped two home games over the past week, but also turned in a win against a lower-ranked Class M team.
Despite the losses, Southington coach Ron Chase said that his tough-nosed group is starting to figure things out and gel. Chase also said that the team is becoming better at the things they’ve been working on and talking about in practice.
Now, it’s just a matter of finishing the game.
Losing the lead
Southington went into halftime with a three-goal lead when they hosted East Catholic (3-1) on Monday, April 11, but an offensive drought in the second half forced the Knights to fall short to the Eagles, 10-5.
Colton Brown put the Knights on the board late in the first quarter. The Eagles knotted the score at 1-1 with a goal moments later, but Matt Natelli and Chris Gamber (Michael Majchrzak) helped Southington regain the lead with goals in the final minutes of the quarter.
Jacob Testa extended the Knights lead to four, 5-1, with back-to-back scores midway through the second quarter and cruised into the half with a 5-2 lead.
In the second half, however, the Knights wouldn’t find the back of the cage at all, as the Eagles went on to score six in the third quarter and two in the fourth.
Scott Mockler scooped up four ground balls. Nick Zukauskas, Brandon Slade, Dylan Kulas, and Natelli each recovered three ground balls. Gamber and Testa both took four shots on goal.Southington took 17 shots on goal and committed eight penalties. Brandon Porter collected 10 saves.
The Knights went into halftime with an 8-0 lead, and Southington cruised to their third win of the season with a 13-2 win over Newington on Wednesday.
Gamber paced the Knights with four goals and two assists on 10 shots. Testa took five shots on goal and scored three goals. Jake Walczak and Zukauskas scored two goals apiece. Aiden Chubet and Majchrzak both contributed with a goal. Taylor Beckham and Mockler each grabbed four ground balls, and Matt Gundersen took three.
Southington took 41 shots on goal, and Porter collected eight saves to earn the victory.
Bears claw Knights
Southington returned home to their turf field on Saturday where they hosted Norwalk (3-2), but fell into a similar trap that pitted them a loss against East Catholic at the beginning of the week. The Knights left the first half with a 2-0 advantage, but came out of the second half without a goal, falling short to the Bears, 3-2.
Walczak and Chubet (Slade) scored Southington’s only goals of the game late in the first quarter. Southington took 29 shots on goal, and Porter scored 18 saves, but it wasn’t enough. The Knights found themselves scoreless in the second half for the second time in the same week.
Still, Chase said that this was the first game where his team played the full 48 minutes.
“There’s no doubt about it,” the coach said. “We were all over them defensively. That’s the best I’ve seen our defense play all year. We were all over the ground balls. On offense, we were dodging hard and making looks we were supposed to make.”
Norwalk’s goalie Brian Quick saved 28 shots in the cage for the Bears.
“Yeah, they had a good goalie, but we made his job pretty easy today by putting the ball on his stick, at his chest, and at his feet,” said Chase. “When you have a decent goalie, who is a lefty, you have to put the ball in the right spot.”
Chase said that he gave his guys a lot of credit for playing really well, and is starting to notice change in his team that is carrying over from practices to games.
“We just have to capitalize on our opportunities,” the coach said. “We’re starting to figure things out and gel now. It’s just a couple little things here and there that can make or break a game. Today was finishing our shots.”