By SPENCER DREHER
Southington boys soccer has had to fight to the very end during a lot of games this fall. Eight of their 11 games have been decided by two goals or fewer. Unfortunately, most of those have not turned into wins for the Blue Knights.
Southington was keeping it close with a very good Tolland team (8-1-2) on Oct. 15 at Fontana Field. It was scoreless heading into halftime, but Tolland eventually pulled away with two goals in the final 20 minutes.
The week only got tougher when the Knights traveled to Glastonbury (10-0-1), who gave the Knights their worst loss of the season, 5-0.
Despite the woes, coach Dave Yanosy keeps telling his young team they are only improving every week.
“We are playing much better soccer,” Yanosi said. “The ball is moving much better. The defense is a lot more organized. I am also seeing improvement in terms of just being used to the speed of varsity play. We’ve been playing a bunch of sophomores so speed of play has been very important.”
Despite the improvements, Southington entered this week with a record of 2-6-3. Here is what happened last week:
Loss to Tolland
OCT. 15—Southington’s defense held Tolland’s strong attack in check in the first half as the teams went to the break tied, 0-0. Neither team had a good opportunity to score until the second half.
It seemed the Knight’s defense was still shutting down the Eagles in the second half. However, with just over 20 minutes left, a long throw-in from deep near Southington’s goal found Tolland’s Kevin Sirois and he found the back-right of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Tolland would eventually pull away as Sirois scored again with five minutes left, this time on a sliding kick coming off a cross from the left. Hunter Williams could have made it 2-0 for the Eagles with eight minutes left, but his shot banged off the right post and fell into the hands of Ryan Lunn.
Yanosy said the difference was that Tolland’s advantage in experience helped them pull away in a tight and physical game.
“A team like that, they have been winning and they know how to win at this point,” Yanosi said. “They are an older team and in tight games, I think you can draw upon that experience. The fact that they have been there and they have had that kind of success made the difference tonight.”
Southington had its opportunities to score and kept the ball on Tolland’s end for most of the second half. With 20 minutes to play, Ryan Daddona had an opportunity to tie off a header from inside the box, but it went wide.
Daddona also delivered a cross to several Knights with just over seven minutes left, but Tolland goalkeeper, Josh Tubbs, came up and caught it before Southington could get off a shot.
Tubbs had seven saves total. It was the fourth straight shutout victory for the Eagles.
Lunn recorded eight saves in the loss, giving him 65 saves on the season.
Loss to Glastonbury
OCT. 18—Southington’s matchup at Glastonbury was similar to the loss against Tolland. While the Knights were unable to score, they kept the Tomahawks in check in the first half as the score was 0-0 at halftime.
Glastonbury attacked the net early in the second half with two goals from Kevin Carmichael and Zach Gardener. Alec Hughes provided two more goals in the final 12 minutes to make it 5-0 and seal the win.
It was the last opponent the struggling Knights wanted see, as the Tomahawks, who have won state titles in five of the last six years, have outscored their opponents on the season, 47-5.
Up next: Southington was scheduled to host Farmington (7-3-1) on Tuesday and they are set to play at Rocky Hill (1-8-2) tonight at 6 p.m. The Knights must win four of their five remaining games in order to qualify for the state tournament.
Yanosi said the team will continue to improve and try to string together some wins in the homestretch.
“Even though it may not be indicative in our record, we are getting better,” Yanosi said. “We do have to get healthy, first of all. We do have some guys that are banged up that we would like to get back. And we got to stay positive. We got to believe that with hard work and perseverance, we can win these last few games.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.