By BRIAN JENNINGS
They’ve battled through the injuries. They’ve battled through the 1-4-2 start to the season. They’ve battled through the adversity. Near full strength now with a 6-5-2 record, the Blue Knight soccer team qualified for the Class LL tournament for the third-straight year with the help from a pair of wins this past week.
Although the absence of key starters may have hurt the Knights in the win-loss column early on, Coach Dave Yanosy said that the injuries also had a positive effect on the team.
“That’s the funny thing about injuries,” said Yanosy. “As hard as it is to have them, it does give you an opportunity to give other guys some time that maybe they wouldn’t have gotten. Some of our substitute players have gotten a really good amount of time.”
He said that players like Kian Siadat, Tyler Salzillo, and Bryce Worth stepped up to play crucial roles, filling in for key starters that went down with injuries earlier in the season. Those players helped keep Southington’s playoff hopes alive and could benefit the team considerably in the postseason.
“When we’ve gotten those injured players back, those players that filled in were able to provide some really good depth as options off the bench,” the coach said. “Those guys have gained experience in the time that we had a bunch of injuries, and now they’re really able to provide us with really good minutes in the time that they’re in there.”
The Knights will look to fight for better seeding in the state tournament this week when they host Conard (8-3-2) on Tuesday, Oct. 24 and then head out on the road against Hall (9-1-3) on Thursday, Oct. 26. Southington is currently 6-5-2 and second to Hall in a race for the CCC Colonial West title.
Win vs. Avon
OCT. 16—The Knights rallied back from a one-goal, first half deficit to earn their second-straight win after edging Avon by a goal, 2-1, at home on Monday.
Avon’s Danny Kamenetskiy scored the game’s first goal with seconds remaining in the half to give the Indians a 1-0 advantage at halftime. Joe Colaccino broke Southington’s silence with a goal in the 46th minute, knotting the score at 1-1.
On a long pass to the top of the penalty box with Avon players running into position, Elijah Rodriguez gathered the ball, boxed out a defender, and dribbled towards the middle of the field. He lofted a shot that just snuck under the crossbar where a leaping goalie couldn’t reach it and rolled all the way down the back of the net for the game-winning goal in the 68th minute.
John Griffin saved two of 10 shots on goal. Southington took eight shots on goal and four corner kicks.
Win at Newington
OCT. 20—The Blue Knights earned their third-straight win and qualified for the state tournament with a 3-1 victory at Newington (4-8-1) on Friday, reaching above .500 for the first time this season.
Hermish Adarkwah scored the game’s first goal in the 17th minute of the first half to give the Indians a 1-0 advantage at halftime. Then it was all Southington, as the Knights went on to score three-straight goals within the first 16 minutes and four seconds of the second half.
Worth headed Southington’s first goal into the corner of the net off a free kick from about 10 yards out in the 46th minute. Salzillo played a ball to Worth inside of the penalty box in the 53rd minute, who then slid a pass by the goalie for Colaccino to clean up with authority with a defender draped on his back. Alexis Frausto found Colaccino for a header and his second goal of the game on a cross in the 57th minute.
Griffin saved four of Newington’s five shots on goal. Southington took 10 shots on goal.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/10/24/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-oct-27-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.