By John Goralski
Jessica Lee pushed the ball forward to Allie Abacherli, and Abacherli quickly returned the favor as the Lady Knight field hockey seemed to weave between Sheehan defenders in a mad rush for the goal.
On Thursday, Sept. 18, Southington’s offense was clicking on all cylinders with give-and-go passing, feints, dodges, and crisp passes across the field. For years, coaches have touted the potential of playing on turf fields. Against Sheehan, the Lady Knights proved it.
Since losing a tight contest to one of the state’s top teams in the season opener, Southington has out-scored opponents, 7-1. With a 3-1 win over Sheehan last week, the Lady Knights pushed above .500 (2-1) for the first time since 2011.
“They’re starting to get used to this turf field, and it’s really starting to show,” said Lady Knight field hockey coach Erin Luddy. “We’re starting to get the ball in the cage, and that was a little down last year. To get off to such a good start this year has really been a great morale booster.”
Southington never trailed against Sheehan. Abacherli opened the scoring midway through the first half off a pass from Lee.
Sheehan evened the score in the minutes that followed, but Jen Briscoe scored before the half to give the Knights the lead for good. Abacherli fed Kaylee Graef at the start of the second half, and that score put the game out of reach.
In their two early wins, Southington has had seven different girls involved in the scoring.
“It’s not the same person scoring every single time,” said Luddy. “They’re beginning to spread it out, so we’re starting to see that our attack can come from any direction and from anyone on the field.”
On defense, the Knights have been just as good with their rookie goaltender collecting 34 saves over the first three contests. Against Sheehan, Natalie Liquindoli collected 11 saves to get the win.
Luddy said that she was pleased with the fast start, but her team will face an even bigger test this week. Southington will face three opponents over a four day stretch. It will start on Tuesday against Fermi (1-4) and will continue with back-to-back games against Nonnewaug (2-1) and Wethersfield (0-4).
“To be over .500 is a morale booster for us, and I hope that we finally have the confidence to know that every game is a winnable game.” ” said Luddy. “Nonnewaug’s going to be a tough game, and Fermi’s always a good measure for us. Next week’s going to tell me a lot about this team.”
By John Goralski