The Blue Knight lacrosse team is leaner, meaner, and ready to make a run at the postseason. This year, when the Knights charge onto the field, every man matters. Downsizing the varsity program was a calculated move by Blue Knight coach Ron Chase.
The idea is simple: keep only the committed players in the program, and win. Chase eliminated more than half of last year’s roster, and the coach believes that it will lead to more fun and more success. That’s the ultimate goal.
“Everyone asks me if I want to win games, but when I go to practice, I’m enjoying it,” said Chase. “The kids are willing to learn and want to get better every day. That tells me that they’re the right type of player that we want on our team.”
The Knights finished last year’s regular season at 9-7 overall (4-4 home, 5-3 away), placing fourth in the CCC Central with a regional record of 2-3. That was enough to sneak into the CCC Central tournament as the last team to qualify, but Southington was quickly ousted, 10-3, by top-seeded Simsbury on the road in the semifinals.
The Trojans eventually went on to claim the regional conference title with a one-goal overtime victory, 9-8, over No. 2 Glastonbury in the final.
The 15th-seeded Knights qualified for the Class L tournament for the first time since 2014. But following a one-goal victory, 9-8, over No. 18 Fairfield Warde at home in the qualifying round, the Knights were yet again found themselves paired with the Trojans.
Southington’s postseason came to an end after suffering a 10-1 loss at No. 2 Simsbury. The Trojans eventually went on to play for the Class L title against top-seeded Darien in the championship game, but were obliterated, 18-3, by the Blue Wave. It was their second-straight CIAC Class LL title after moving up from Class M in 2015.
The Knights lost 11 athletes to graduation after last season, including key players like Jarod Florian (A), Christopher Gamber (A), Dylan Kulas (D), Bryce Lynch (D), Michael Majchrzak (M/A), Matthew Natelli (D/M), Brandon Porter (G), and Jacob Testa (M). Testa was the team’s leading goal scorer and lone all-conference selection.
“It was a very strong senior class,” said Southington coach Ron Chase. “A lot of those seniors were starters their freshman and sophomore years.”
Returning seniors include Taylor Beckham (M), Colton Brown (A), Hunter Forrest (D), Matthew Gundersen (M), Lance Johnston (D/M), Ryan Mailhot (M), Scott Mockler (FO specialist), Justin Nogueira (M), Brendan Shea, and Brandon Slade (D).
Returning juniors include Evan Bumbera (G), Jake Walczak (A), and Tagan Welch.
Returning sophomores include Seth Bogoslofski, Jacob Cardozo (G), Brett Hall, Evan Johanns (M), Robert Loffredo, Eli Steindl, and Matthew Thompson (M).
New additions to the team include senior Liam Guthrie (A) and sophomore Ethan Thomson (A). Guthrie is a transfer from Florida. Thomson is a transfer as well.
Returning some key seniors on the front line of battle, Chase said that the strength of the team will be their attack. That line will consist of four main offensive strikers: Brown, Guthrie, Thomson, and Walczak.
“We got a couple other attackmen, but those are our four key guys that just have a lot of experience and skill,” said Chase. “They play very well together.”
With a new goalie and many new faces on the opposite end of the attack, Chase said that protecting their own cage might come as a cause for concern.
“We have two guys that are seniors, but everyone else are sophomores, except for our long-stick midfielders,” said Chase. “Those guys have to get to know each other well, figure out the defense, what their strengths are, and how to play off each other.”
Southington added Cheshire, Trumbull, and Guilford to this year’s schedule. Team captains for the upcoming season are to be named at a later time. Chase is entering his 10th year as head coach of the program and currently holds an overall coaching record of 80-53.
For weekly box scores and daily results, visit us throughout the week at www.SouthingtonObserver.com. Search “scoreboard.”