By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knights qualified for the Class L tournament with a win over the week, but as Southington coach Ron Chase explains, there is still a lot of work to be done before the regular season concludes.
“We made the playoffs, but we’re not competing in the big games,” the coach said. “We’re struggling right now across the field against teams that are good. We can’t get our offense going, which makes our defense play a lot. And we caught the injury bug.”
The Knights headed to West Hartford on Monday, May 9 where they defeated Hall (4-10), 10-4, and earned a seat in the postseason. Southington amassed a 5-3 lead by halftime.
Jake Testa (1 assist) marshaled the Knights with five goals. Ryan Mailhot added a pair of goals, and Colton Brown (2 assists), Austin Leland, and Matt Gundersen each scored a goal. Jarod Florian, Chris Gamber, and Mike Majchrzak each contributed with an assist.
Brandon Porter saved 14 shots in the cage for the Knights. Southington took 17 shots on goal. Hall took 18 shots on goal.
Southington returned home a few days later to welcome Glastonbury (13-1) to their turf, but the Knights fell short, 14-3. The Tomahawks entered the second half with a 7-1 advantage.
Brown paced the Knights with a pair of scores, and Testa followed with a goal as a part of Southington’s 14 total shots. Porter saved nine shots on goal. Glastonbury took 23 shots on goal.
Multiple starters have been out for the Knights with injuries, but one notable player who will miss the rest of the 2016 season is starting sophomore attacker Jake Walczak.
“We’re down a lot of guys injury-wise, but we still have to be able to compete,” said Chase. “Some guys have the ability to compete and have that desire, and certain guys don’t. So we have to keep the guys on the field, who have that desire. Unfortunately, they’re getting gassed because they’re out there a lot.”
Besides injuries, Chase said that fundamentals are some of the major ingredients the Knights have to have, in order to help them prepare for the state tournament.
“We don’t handle the ball when we need to handle the ball,” the coach said. “We’re not sliding on defense when we need to slide on defense. We work on it day in and day out, but when the game is faster than what we’re used to, we just can’t seem to do those little things that we need to do. We did those things against Hall, but then we come here and don’t do those things against Glastonbury.”
The Knights fight for seeding as they close out the season with Pomperaug (7-8) and Avon (7-6). A win over Avon will clinch a spot in the CCC tournament.