Inexperience and injuries have plagued the Blue Knight lacrosse team since the preseason. The Knights entered this past week with just one win on their resume and were running out of opportunities to qualify for the Class L tournament for a second-straight year.
Although the Knights have been battling a long losing streak, Southington coach Ron Chase stated that he felt his young team was gradually improving every week. However, their losses eventually caught up to them. With three more losses this week, the Knights were eliminated from postseason contention.
“It’s been a frustrating season,” said Chase. “Going into the season, we were missing a bunch of guys. So, we’ve been relying on younger guys to tow the weight for us, but it’s tough to put a lot of the weight on their shoulders.”
Whether it’s not handling passes or not having players ready to slide on defense, execution has also come under fire as part of the blame.
“It’s frustrating because the kids and coaches put a lot of work in during the week with watching film and extended practices,” the coach said. “It’s frustrating when we don’t put it on the field.”
Even though the team has been eliminated this year, Chase hopes that things will turn around this week when they host Simsbury (6-3) on Thursday, May 4 in their lone game of the week. Simsbury is currently tied for ninth in Class L. Southington is currently 1-10 overall. Who knows? Maybe this year’s squad will embrace their new role as spoilers.
Loss at South Windsor
APRIL 25—The Knights began the week at South Windsor on Tuesday, where they fell, 14-9. The Bobcats are currently tied for first with Darien in Class L.
A 4-0 run in the first quarter and 3-0 run in the second helped the Bobcats build a two-point halftime lead, 7-5. The Bobcats extended their lead with a pair of goals to open the second half, but a couple of scores from Evan Johanns and Tagan Welch before the end of the third brought the Knights back to within two, 9-7.
However, the Bobcats sealed the win by scoring the next five goals, including two that came with 51 seconds and a second to go in the third.
Johanns (2 assists) and Matt Gundersen and paced the offense with a pair of goals each. Garrett Brown saved 16 shots in the cage.
Loss at North Haven
APRIL 27—A couple days later, a second-half surge caused the Knights to suffer their second one-goal loss of the season in a heartbreaking 6-5 loss at North Haven.
“We played particularly well,” said Chase. “We played with passion and came out fired up the whole game. We played until the end, but that’s the kind of effort we need every game.”
The Knights trailed by a goal, 3-2, at halftime, but knotted the score with the first goal of the second half. However, three-straight goals from the Indians in the third quarter kept the game just out of reach for the Knights. Southington scored the lone goal of the fourth quarter at the 10-minute mark.
Gundersen (6 shots, 1 assist), Ethan Thomson (5 shots), Johanns (2 shots, 1 assist), Ryan Mailhot (2 shots), and Justin Nogueira (2 shots) each accounted for Southington’s goals. Brandon Slade recovered five ground balls.
Brown saved 14 shots in the cage. Southington took 21 shots on goal and committed five penalties.
Loss vs. Conard
APRIL 29—The Knights were eliminated from postseason contention after falling, 8-3, to Conard at home on Saturday in their eighth-straight loss and first regional contest of the season.
“It came down to mistakes we made,” said Chase. “That’s kind of been the issue when you have a lot of young guys out there. We’re going to make young-guy mistakes.”
The Chieftains led the Knights, 4-2, at halftime, as the Knights scored just one goal in the second half. The Knights gave up three goals within the final 28 seconds of the first quarter.
“We looked sluggish today at times,” the coach said. “I don’t know if it’s because of the way the season’s been going or because of the heat. But there are times that I wish we played at the next level.”
Thomson (1 shot), Jake Walczak (3 shots), and Dean Bauchiero (2 shots) scored for Southington’s three goals. Nogueira contributed with an assist. Hunter Forrest and Eli Steindl recovered four ground balls each.
Brown saved 14 shots in the cage. Southington took 13 shots on goal and committed two penalties.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/05/02/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-may-5-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.