By BRIAN JENNINGS
If the majority of the players on your team aren’t playing and training in the offseason, you’re not going to be successful. That plays a part in the overall success of the program. That’s what most teams are doing now, and high school lacrosse is at that point nationally.
It’s a belief that Southington coach Ron Chase stated and stands by, but it’s also a belief that Southington hasn’t been abiding by in recent years. That changed this past offseason. The program made changes in the sense of going back to what it used to do in the offseason, reminiscent of what the program looked like when Chase first began his stint as head coach.
This freshman-junior heavy team with a handful of sophomores and seniors sprinkled in there is still considered by Chase to be in its rebuilding stages. But Chase said that he has a group of kids that carry good behavior, attitude, and work ethic, and it showed when a healthy portion of the varsity team played in the offseason.
One of the major offseason changes came from a lifting program the program put together that took place in the morning before school. Chase said that there was an improved attendance, and there were no excuses of why players couldn’t be there in the afternoon.
“We’re trying to change the culture back to what it was years back when we had a different mentality and type of player,” said Chase. “We’re expecting more out of the student-athletes, and the kids bought into it. Hopefully, that’s going to pay dividends down the road.”
Chase said that the program’s booster club did an amazing job of putting together teams to play in fall tournaments, including a Sunday clinic in Windsor, spending money on hiring outside coaches.
“We’re not allowed to do that,” said Chase. “I can’t go and do clinics. The booster club said that they’re all in and have really bought into what I feel is necessary for our program to survive and be successful.”
The Blue Knights finished the 2017 regular season at 2-14 overall, placing last in the CCC Central Division with an 0-5 record (2-7 in CCC). They failed to make the CCC and Class L Tournaments, missing out on the state tournament for the first time since 2016.
Southington’s two wins were the fewest Chase finished a regular season with in his tenure with the program. Chase said that the reason for such a poor regular season was a mixture of player personnel issues, a tough schedule, and a lot of the team’s contributors were sophomores.
“We just didn’t have a lot of experience going into the season, and that’s kind of where we’re at now,” said Chase. “The sophomores and juniors were great, but we only have a handful of contributing seniors. So, we’re going to be very young again this year.”
The Knights lost nine of 25 players to graduation after last season, including a pair of midfielders, a defenseman, and an attacker. The defenseman was the team’s lone all-conference player.
Tagan Welch (A) is the only senior returning to the team with varsity experience. Welch will be joined by senior newcomers Anders Chubet (A), Zach Domian (M), Anthony Golino (D), Joseph Lee (M), and Brett Wolff (D).
Welch has been a part of the varsity team for a couple of years. Chase said that he understands the system is someone that will be a leader on the attack.
“He’s an interchangeable-type player, who can move from the midfield to the attack, and vice versa,” said Chase. “He’s a smart, team player who sees the field a lot better now and does a lot of good things out there.”
Juniors returning include Seth Bogoslofski (M), Jacob Cardozo (M), Derek Guida (D), Evan Johanns (A), Robert Loffredo (D), Eli Steindl (D), Matthew Thompson (M), and Ethan Thomson (A). Junior newcomers include Jason Brault (M), Max Noonan (D), Ben Palladino (M), and Connor Stifel (M). Bogoslofski, Thompson, and Steindl were named as team captains for the upcoming season.
Thompson and Thomson are the leading scorers out of the players returning to this year’s team. Thomson came into the program last year as a transfer from Xavier.
Thomson experienced some growing pains last year, but still started in the varsity lineup. Chase said that he really became very coachable and is starting to come into his own now.
“He’s a physical kid, and he’s quick,” said Chase. “He’s got very good stick work with a good, hard shot. He’s not afraid to turn the corner and take a hit when he’s going to the goal.”
Garrett Brown (G) is the only sophomore returning to the team with varsity experience. Brown took over the starting goalie position midway through last season.”
“He did a very good job for us,” said Chase. “He played against all these big-name teams and made some good saves. We saw his potential, and he’s going to be the driving force behind our defense this year.”
Chase said that the team’s strength will be their attack this season.
“You have some experience down there, but everyone else is young,” said Chase. “So that attack is going to be our most experienced group this year. We’re not very deep, but we’ve got some good skill.”
The midfield is the area of the field that Chase refers to as needing the most improvement.
“We have a very young midfield,” said Chase.
Following a realignment of the CCC, Southington is now in the Central Division along with Avon, Conard, Glastonbury, Hall, and Simsbury. The North Division consists of East Catholic, Farmington, Newington, NW Catholic, RHAM, and South Windsor. The South Division consists of Berlin, Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern, Rocky Hill, Tolland, Windsor.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at email@example.com.