By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington boys soccer got hot at the right time in 2017, ripping off six straight wins to end the regular season with a CCC West Colonial Division championship and a record of 9-5-2.
The Blue Knights entered the Class LL state tournament as the No. 18 seed and knocked off No. 15 Conard 2-1 in West Hartford in the first round. Southington’s win streak, and its season, ended with a 3-0 loss at No. 2 Glastonbury in the next round. The Tomahawks went on to win the state championship.
The Blue Knights lost six starters off of the 2017 team, but they return some good experience for the 2018 campaign. Senior captains Joe Colaccino, Eli Rodriguez and Colin Burdette will lead the way for Southington.
The biggest question for the Blue Knights is can they score enough goals. Southington scored 27 times in 18 matches. The Blue Knights tallied 20 goals in their 10 victories, but just only had seven combined goals in their six defeats and two ties.
Colaccino, a three-year starter, is the top returning scorer from the past two seasons.
“He will play both forward and center midfield,” Blue Knight coach Dave Yanosy said. “He has great vision with the ability to finish.”
Colaccino is a big piece of the Southington attack, and he is one of the top players in the CCC, according to his coach.
“He is a smart, technical and tactical player who has the ability to change games in many ways,” Yanosy said.
Seniors Rodriguez, Burdette, Bryce Worth and Alexis Frausto have the potential to provide help for Colaccino on offense, along with junior Marek Kryzanski.
Rodriguez and Burdette each have seven career goals despite playing as backs, but they are at their best on defense.
Rodriguez has been “a mainstay in the Blue Knight defense for the past two seasons,” Yanosy said. A three-year starter, Rodriguez is a physical player that also possesses track-like speed.
Burdette is a “tough, smart, dependable player who is fantastic in the air,” Yanosy said. Burdette, another three-year starter, will help Rodriguez anchor a strong Blue Knight defense that is a team strength.
In goal, Southington has to replace the graduated Evan Daddona. Senior John Griffin saw time in goal in 2017 when Daddona was out with an injury and figures to take on a bigger role in 2018.
Yanosy sees Southington as a contender in the Colonial Division. The Blue Knights will be looking to defend their division title against the likes of Conard and Hall. Northwest Catholic is also in the Colonial Division.
In the CCC West’s Patriot Division, there are stalwarts like Glastonbury and Farmington to deal with. Yanosy says the Tomahawks and Indians are the teams to beat in the CCC. Glastonbury beat Farmington in a Class LL state semifinal in 2017.
Southington opens the season Friday at home against Conard at 3:45 p.m.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.