It took the Lady Knight field hockey team seven tries to achieve their first win last season, but temperatures ranging in the 90s wouldn’t stop them from winning this year’s season opener. Southington prevailed in a 2-0 shutout at Windsor on Friday, Sept. 9.
“We got off to a rocky start,” said Southington coach Erin Luddy. “Call it first-game jitters if you will. It took us a few minutes to really settle in, but once we did, we had better communication.”
A young roster with very little varsity experience was part of the Achilles heel that held the Knights back from making the postseason last year. Depth is certainly not an issue this season. With high humidity looming throughout most of Friday’s game, substitutes were shuffled into the game with frequency.
The Knights were ready.
“We did a lot of subbing,” the coach said. “No matter who I put in, they were comfortable. They weren’t worried that they were in for two minutes to cover for someone else. It’s their position to play now.”
During this past offseason, Luddy had stated that she believed the team’s absence from the postseason since 2014 was in part caused by one or two-goal losses suffered in close games last year. One of those losses came against Windsor at home in last year’s season opener, which resulted in a 2-1 defeat.
Luddy stated that she believed winning those close games this season is what will be the difference between making a tournament appearance and sitting at home in mid-November. This was a start.
“Last year’s season opener against Windsor was one of those games that we let go and didn’t fight the entire time,” said Luddy. “In this case, that wasn’t true. Instead of playing prevent (defense) and being worried if they were going to score, we attacked. That’s a big difference.”
The offensive side of the ball was an area of the field that the Knights especially struggled with last year as the team scored a total of 14 goals in 16 games. But Luddy said that they have been trying to change the offensive mindset of the team, and it started to show in Friday’s game.
“When we had an opportunity to shoot on goal, it wasn’t just one shot and let’s see what happens,” the coach said. “It was one shot and keep going until you actually know it’s in the cage. We kept fighting for the ball.”
Sydney Rice put the first point up on the board for the Knights with a goal on a drive 10 yards out late in the first half. Isabella DiBattista capped off the victory with a score a little over five and a half minutes to go in the game. The Knights took five shots on goal and Amanda Delorme saved four shots in the cage. The Knights also attempted four penalty corners.
The Knights will look to stay strong this week with games against Glastonbury (1-0) and Newington (0-0-1).
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