By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington field hockey returns a senior-laden group for the 2019 season, but it will face a tougher non-conference schedule in the new campaign.
There are 14 seniors for the Lady Knights, led by senior captains Jenna Sheehan, Emma Doran, Victoria Godlewski and Autumn Swain. There is a whole bunch of varsity experience on this squad as well.
“We have a lot of returning varsity players. They are always looking for what is best for the team and want to succeed,” coach Erin Luddy said.
Luddy will be looking for lots of leadership from those returning players as Southington navigates a tough non-conference slate.
“We have a tougher out-of-conference schedule this year than we did last year, taking on Suffield, Watertown, Hamden, and Branford,” Luddy said. “We still have the strong conference schools to play as well: Glastonbury, Avon, Enfield, Simsbury.”
This Southington group is a year older and a year wiser. The leading goal scorer Julia Jackman (14 goals) was lost to graduation, but Sheehan (13 goals) returns. Sheehan is a dynamic player who can score in bunches and push the tempo from the midfield to the front.
Sheehan will be looking for offensive support from her teammates. Along with Jackman, Alina Calderone also graduated. Calderone finished third on the team with five goals. Anna Laone and Morgan Matthews also graduated from the 2018 team. Jackman and Laone were the senior captains.
“Three of the graduating seniors were part of the offense and a big part of our scoring,” Luddy said. “Ideally new girls will step up and take advantage of the opportunity to become part of the offense of the team. The other graduating senior was part of the midfield, and although she was strong, there are underclassmen who are ready to take their turn.”
Sheehan was an All-CCC South selection, as was Doran. Doran was a constant presence in the midfield for the Knights last season. Doran, Swain, Nikki Greco and Jill Rohon were all multiple goal scorers in 2018.
Swain seemed to be all over the field, and she looks to play the same way as a senior in 2019. Greco and Rohon are returning after gaining valuable experience as sophomores in 2018.
Victoria Godlewski played well in the midfield in 2018, and she will be an important senior in 2019. Senior Kate Przybylski and junior Abby Delgado are each vying for the goalie spot. Both saw time in goal last season, with Pryzbylski taking over as the starter early in the season. The Knights are a traditionally strong defensive team, and having an experienced goalie won’t hurt that reputation.
Southington will be looking to improve upon its 7-10 record from a season ago. The Knights started 1-4, including a 5-4 overtime loss to Watertown on opening day. The opening day game was played over a week after the season officially began, which didn’t help matters.
Southington battled all season long to try to get back to .500. The Knights never did reach .500, but they also never stopped fighting. After two straight wins late in the season at home against EO Smith and Newington, Southington had clinched a trip to the state tournament. The Knights were eliminated in a close 2-1 Class L qualifying round road loss to Fairfield Warde, but they improved throughout the season.
Southington looks to carry the momentum from the second half of last season into 2019. The Knights have plenty of experience, and they will need all of it against a tougher schedule.
Southington opens the season today against Enfield at home at 3:45 p.m.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com