Making his team feel relaxed and just letting them play. According to Southington coach Dave Yanosy, that was the recipe for his Blue Knight soccer team as they ended a four-year absence from the Class LL tournament two seasons ago.
The Knights didn’t advance to the second round last year like they did in 2015, but Southington’s return to postseason play is what really matters. That was the measure that Yanosy’s back-to-the-basics philosophy was working—let the players play a lot more in practice instead of getting bogged down with drills and lectures.
“It’s certainly paid some dividends for us,” the coach said. “Our kids are a lot more comfortable on game days because it’s nothing that we haven’t asked them to do before over the course of practice, day in and day out.”
Following their 2-1 loss to No. 18 Newtown in the first round of the state tournament, the Knights adopted the saying, “Take pride in your work,” as the team’s mantra for this season, stemming from the acronym P.R.I.D.E. that Southington athletic Director Greg Ferry created for the department. Yanosy specifically talked to his team about the R in P.R.I.D.E., which stands for response.
“In that game against Newtown, it wasn’t the fact that we gave up that game-tying goal,” said Yanosy. “It took us a handful of minutes to regain our bearings, and then we gave up that second goal. We have to make sure that we respond well in those moments of adversity.”
Yanosy said that the team is expecting to have another successful season, but making it back to the state tournament is going to rely tremendously on the cohesiveness of this unit.
“It really depends on how quickly and well player’s positions, formations, and roles come together,” the coach said. “But there’s certainly a lot of potential and promise with this group, in terms of what we have returning and the experience we bring back.”
The Knights finished last year’s regular season at 10-4-2 overall (5-2-1 home, 5-2-1 away), placing second to last in the CCC Central Blue Division with a 0-3-1 record. The team lost eight seniors to graduation after last season, but leadership has been the cornerstone of the Knights over the years and will continue to be a driving factor.
Team captains for the upcoming season include seniors Collin Burbank (midfielder), Evan Daddona (goalie), Kieran Tindall (defenseman), and Daniel Topper (midfielder). Daddona is one of two all-conference players returning.
The Knights are well-balance in all areas of the field, but goalkeeping will make Southington’s opponents feel like they’re trying to score on a brick wall.
“Evan Daddona is going to be a collegiate soccer player and is looking at schools right now,” the coach said. “He played pretty much every game since sophomore year, so that’s obviously a strong spot for us.”
Senior Cameron Zegzdryn (defenseman) will also help anchor Southington’s defense. Junior Joseph Colaccino (forward) returns as an offensive weapon after leading the team with 10 goals last year. Senior Hayden Burbank (midfielder) is another key contributor that Yanosy has in his arsenal as the other all-conference player returning.
After a new realignment of the CCC, Southington is now in the West Colonial Division of the West Region and is scheduled to play Conard, Hall, and Northwest Catholic twice. The West Patriot Division features Avon, Farmington, Glastonbury, and Simsbury.
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