By BRIAN JENNINGS
The third time was the charm for the Lady Knights as the girls soccer team earned its first win of the season in Bloomfield. Southington lost hard-fought games to Conard and Simsbury to open the season, but Southington coach Mike Linehan said that the team is progressing as a team through learning how to compete against quality teams and recognizing what it takes to win.
“I have some folks that are playing in different positions, and we just need a little more time playing together and getting comfortable,” the coach said. “We implemented a formation that I think is going to help us. We’re seeing that it’s already showing some good results.”
Southington began the fall campaign in West Hartford on Friday, Sept. 9, but fell to Conard, 3-1.
The Chieftains held a 2-0 lead by halftime, but Katherine Crouse closed the Knights within one with a goal midway through the second half. One minute later, Conard scored to put the game out of reach.
Janelle Mangassarian collected 30 saves in the loss. Conard out-shot the Knights, 33-21.
“They scored two goals in the first five minutes, which put us back on our heels,” said Linehan. “The first-game jitters were evident. But if you take away the first five minutes of the season, I’m pleased in regards to what I’ve seen on the field.”
On Tuesday, Southington opened their home schedule and were edge, 2-1, by Simsbury after battling to a tie at the half.
The Trojans scored early in the first half, but Natalie Verderame knotted the score, 1-1, before the break. Southington eventually came undone when Simsbury scored the winning goal with just under 20 minutes remaining in the contest.
Mangassarian saved eight of Simsbury’s 10 shots on goal. Southington finished with 11 shots on goal and eight corner kicks.
“I was very pleased with the way we played,” said Linehan. “When you play games, there’s one that wins the game and one that doesn’t. But it doesn’t mean that the team that lost didn’t play well, and we sometimes forget that. I felt that we played well against a team that scored 10 goals against us last year in a game that could have gone either way.”
Verderame scored the Southington’s first goals in each half to help lift them past Bloomfield on Friday. Emma Panarella added the Knights’ third goal in the 30th minute. Lia Pizzitola, Olivia Sherwood, and Ariana Gazaferi contributed with assists.
Mangassarian saved Bloomfield’s only two shots on goal. Southington finished with 36 shots on goal and eight corner kicks.
“They put us on a very small, dry, bumpy field,” said Linehan. “They came out in a very small-field environment and were ready to put a tremendous amount of pressure on us. We held our own though, taking what we learned from our game against Simsbury.”
Southington is currently 1-2 overall and 0-2 in the CCC Central Blue. The Knights will look to start a winning streak this week with games against Platt (0-3) and Glastonbury (3-0).
“It’s now time to show people what we can do on the field,” said Linehan. “We have to let our performances and scores do more of our talking. We don’t get worried about who we are playing. We know that we have to be ready for every game.”
Glastonbury is currently tied for first in Class LL. The Tomahawks have won its last 40 games, including the postseason, claiming three of the last five Class LL titles.
The last time the Tomahawks were defeated was at South Windsor on Sept. 23, 2014 in a 5-4 loss.