By John Goralski
Eric Schneider hurled the ball from the sidelines in the opening minute of the game, and Southington players scrambled to the net. On Wednesday, Oct. 8, the Knights were hungry to kickstart the scoring, but nobody could have predicted this.
NW Catholic’s goaltender snatched the ball out of the air, stumbled back, and dropped the ball at his feet. It rolled into the net, and Southington celebrated a 1-0 lead.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
“This might be the first one we’ve scored like this all year that has been of a lucky nature. We really haven’t gotten a ton of those,” said Blue Knight coach Dave Yanosy. “But it was a great long throw by Schneider. There was pressure on the keeper because Curtis Topper was crashing hard. We were doing the right things and working hard. When you do that, sometimes things like that happen. You have to make those breaks, and that’s what we did.”
The Knights made the most of the opportunity. For the next 52 minutes, both teams battled for the second goal. With 17:35 remaining in the second half, the Knights finally broke through. Casey Doyle looped a ball into the box, and Jake Morrell nearly scored on a header. Schneider converted the rebound for his second goal of the game, and Southington held on for the 2-0 win.
“This was a good, team win, and I was really happy with some of those guys that don’t always get a ton of accolades,” said Yanosy. “I thought that Jake Wallach played extremely well off the bench. Casey Doyle put together that great ball for our second goal, and Jake Morrell really made that goal happen. If he doesn’t challenge for that initial header and get a piece of it, that ball would have probably been cleared away. That’s what ended up being the difference.”
The victory avenged a 3-0 loss in mid-September. More importantly, it pushed the Knights within two victories of a postseason berth with two weeks left in the season. Just as important, it answered a 3-0 loss to Conard on Monday that snapped Southington’s four game hot streak.
“We did what we needed to do today, but the biggest thing that I liked about today’s performance is that we responded to what happened Monday,” said Yanosy. “We didn’t really come ready to play, and we got beat. We addressed some things. We did some different things in warm-ups, and the boys responded. We scored a minute in, and that was really good for our confidence.”
After starting the season five straight losses, the Knights have been on a run. Even with the 3-0 loss at the end of the week to Farmington, the Knights are in control of their postseason goals. If the team can scramble for a point or two this week in conference rematches against Hall (9-2-1) and Simsbury (10-1-1), it could take the pressure of their final week against Newington (2-10) and New Britain (1-9-2).
In these late runs, momentum is everything.
“We’re in good shape, but this is my 14th or 15th year coaching, and I know that, at this point of the season and especially in this league, you can’t take your foot off the gas pedal,” said Yanosy. “We know that we can play with anybody. We’re going into each game confident, and we’re looking to get something out of every one.”
There’s no more room for error.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.
By John Goralski