By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Southington Lady Knight soccer team is on a roll, winning twice last week to record their fifth and sixth shutout of the season. More importantly, they are inching closer to a postseason return.
Reaching the Class LL tournament for the first time with the Knights would be one thing, but Southington coach Mike Linehan said that the team has to turn its attention towards positioning for the tournament once they get in.
“I don’t want any letdowns,” the coach said. “We hope that we get a home game if we’re lucky enough, but we certainly don’t want to play the likes of Glastonbury and others in the top end of the bracket. I’d like to be in a good position to have a level of success in the tournament, and that’s where I have the girls focused.”
On the field, Linehan said that the Knights are executing their overall sense of strategy. But chemistry, as Linehan explains, is the main ingredient that is starting to develop through the team’s recent success.
“We have a better understanding of what is next,” said Linehan. “When a player receives the ball, not only does one player know what she’s going to do with it immediately, but everyone else knows what she’s going to do with it. We can now be proactive, rather than reactive. That’s a huge advatange.”
Southington began the week at Windsor on Tuesday, where they blanked the Warriors, 4-0.
Natalie Verderame (5 shots) put Southington’s first point on the board midway through the first half. Katherine Crouse (3 shots) scored a pair of back-to-back goals before the end of the half. Michaela Nanfito added a goal late in the second half for insurance. Alijah Vega, Emma Panarella, Taylor Hubert, and Nikki Carter (2 shots) each contributed with an assist.
Southington took 15 shots on goal and six corner kicks. Janelle Mangassarian saved all three of Windsor’s shots on goal.
The Knights returned home three days later to host Hall, winning their fourth-straight game with a 2-0 victory.
“This was a great win for the program,” said Linehan. “That’s a quality win that we haven’t had in a while. I’m very proud of where we are, but I try to keep the girls focused because it is one game, and we have higher goals for the year.”
After a scoreless first half, Verderame got the Knights going with a goal on a breakaway midway through the second half. Ariana Gazaferi put the game out of reach for the Warriors with a goal off of penalty kick moments later.
Southington took eight shots on goal. Mangassarian saved all eight of Hall’s shots on goal.
Southington is currently 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the CCC Central Blue. Southington has six wins, all by shutout, but the key seems to be scoring. The Knights have scored just one goal in each of their losses.
The Knights are one win away from qualifying for the Class LL tournament with seven regular season games remaining. The Knights will look to qualify for the postseason this week with games against Bulkeley-Weaver (0-7) and Farmington (4-3-2).