Boys go down fighting in opening round

Ronaldo Nieto takes a shot during a first round loss to Newtown.

Ronaldo Nieto takes a shot during a first round loss to Newtown.

By BRIAN JENNINGS

STAFF WRITER

Down 2-1 late in the second half, Southington chipped the ball inside of Newtown’s penalty box and a Blue Knight broke free towards the goal chasing after the perfect bounce. The forward headed the ball off of the crossbar.

Another forward leaped up and headed the rebound off of the crossbar, and another followed with a third header off of the crossbar until the ball was finally cleared by Newtown out of bounds.

“We created really good opportunities,” said Southington coach Dave Yanosy. “It just didn’t happen. It wasn’t for a lack of creating opportunities, effort, or really anything. It just didn’t happen.”

Following their misfortune late in the second half, the 15th-seeded Blue Knight soccer team was upset and eliminated from the Class LL tournament after falling, 2-1, to No. 18 Newtown at home in the first round on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

“It was a hard-fought game and a well-played game,” the coach said. “There wasn’t much difference in the records. We’re coming from a good league, and they’re coming from a good league. It was as advertised.”

Elijah Rodriguez scored Southington’s lone goal of the game at the 19th minute of the first half on an assist by Alexis Frausto. The Nighthawks rallied back with a pair of goals less than two minutes apart from one another in the 17th and 16th minutes of the second half.

“It was just a big momentum shift,” said Yanosy. “We talked about the idea of really being ready for anything before the game and at halftime. Good, bad, or indifferent. Whatever the situation is, we have to react in a positive manner to it. I think we were almost a little in shock that they tied it up from a mental standpoint. We kind of switched off a little bit and then gave them a corner.”

Yanosy said that Newtown was a handful on corner kicks all night, as the Newtown attempted six in the game.

“They were very good on corners and had some really good size,” the coach said. “With the momentum from tying it up and throwing guys forward, they were able to get the winner on the corner.”

The Blue Knights took 14 shots on goal and five corner kicks. Evan Daddona saved nine of Newtown’s 22 shots on goal.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed, especially having the one-goal lead for the majority of the game,” said Yanosy. “Then the tides turned really quickly, almost in a heartbeat. But I was proud of the guys for the way they battled, especially going down the stretch. We did everything, but equalize. We hit the crossbar a couple of times and had a handful of good opportunities. It just wasn’t in the cards tonight.”

Although they entered the postseason with high expectations of making a deep run throughout the state tournament, Yanosy still told his players that they had a great season after the game.

“It doesn’t mean much now because they’re devastated, but I thought they carried the torch from last year,” the coach said. “Last year’s team was the first team to qualify in almost four years and had a really good record, but this team basically matched that almost to a game. They had almost just as good of a record and had a home game in the state tournament. So they had a fantastic year.”

No. 4 Farmington (16-2-1) will play No. 16 Fairfield Prep (12-3-4) at Naugatuck High School, and No. 7 Shelton (15-3-1) will play No. 11 Danbury (13-2-4) at Fairfield Ludlowe High School in the semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Fairfield Prep upset top-seeded Naugatuck (14-1-3), 1-0, in the second round.

Southington finished the season at 10-5-2 overall.

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