@NEWINGTON - Over the past couple seasons, a boys lacrosse matchup between Southington and Newington wouldn’t be much of a contest.
On Tuesday, however, the Indians showed a much-improved program off in the 8-5 loss to the Blue Knights.
“We knew coming into this game that this wasn’t a typical Newington team,” Southington head coach Ron Chase said. “We knew they were coming in with confidence and got guys that can play and it showed out there today.”
It was a grind-it-out affair for both teams throughout and was anybody’s game coming down to the final four minutes.
The Blue Knights took advantage of Newington at the end, though, with three consecutive goals to close it out.
“We struggled to start the game off,” Southington’s Tagan Welch said. “But I definitely thought we ended the game off well, we kept fighting and the goals came with it.”
Welch put Southington up 6-5 with 3:43 remaining in the final quarter of play.
Just over a minute later, Evan Johanns would capitalize on an Indians’ turnover at the other end as he put his shot past Newington goalie Jeajuan Ramos and quickly the lead was slipping away.
“We had a few mental errors here and there,” Newington’s Connor Brennan said. “We had some bad passes, took some bad shots and some people may have been a bit too selfish. It just adds fuel to the fire.”
Down two goals with 2:30 left in the game, the Indians needed a spark from somebody, but couldn’t find it as Southington’s Ethan Thomson put the exclamation point on the victory with his third goal, completing the hat trick.
Those final four minutes proved to be the difference in a tightly contested game between the two.
“We’re happy that the result was closer than the previous years,” Newington head coach Zach Zarookian said. “But we used to take more moral victories in the past. We’re not looking to do that anymore, we’re looking to win games.”
Newington got strong play out of its four senior captains in the game: Brennan, Mike Ganley, Matt Barron and Rob Petronio. Brennan and Ganley both scored. Ganley had the first goal of the game for Newington and Brennan stopped a two-goal Southington run in the third quarter with a goal. Petronio had six ground balls in the game as the defensive leader.
“This year we have a better attitude,” Barron said. “We’re not giving up on games and we’re playing all the way through the fourth quarter. Giving a complete effort throughout the whole game is definitely a big difference maker and I think it showed here today.”
Southington, playing with some inexperience on the defensive end, got a strong game out of goalie Garrett Brown.
When the defense would miss their slides and give up open looks, Brown was there to stop it. He flashed his ability in net and made it difficult for the Indians offense to find any consistent offense.
“Garrett’s been consistent all year,” Chase said. “He’s one of the better goalies in the state. The great thing is that he’s only a sophomore. He’s confident in there and he’s an all-around great goalie.”
On the other end, Ramos also played a strong game for Newington. The play of the two goalies was a big reason behind the low scoring game. Ramos tried to match Brown save-by-save.
“Jeajuan’s got a really good attitude and he’s come a really long way,” Zarookian said. “We were really happy to see him out there performing. That was the best game of his career.”
With the win Southington moved to 3-1 on the season. Newington fell to 2-1.
Dan Orencole can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org