SOUTHINGTON - Change is never easy for some teams. The Southington girls soccer team, on the other hand, embraces it.
It’s been a philosophy the seventh-ranked Blue Knights (9-1) used plenty during their 7-0 rout of Platt (1-8-1) on Tuesday and throughout this season.
“What I found last year and years past as a team was we have become very predictable,” Southington head coach Michael Linehan said. “I told this group in order to have the success I need to be able to, in game, before a game, whenever I need to, change the situation.”
Linehan wants the Blue Knights to be able to understand that each situation requires its own approach and sometimes that means changing up from their base formation to a different one that has caused opponents plenty of trouble.
That was the case last week when Southington found itself down 2-0 within the first five minutes of the match against Northwest Catholic. The Blue Knights assessed the situation and made some changes. It worked and the Blue Knights defeated the Lions 3-2.
“So we were able to change it a couple times today [against Platt],” the head coach said. “This group is talented enough for that modification doesn’t overwhelm them and they adapted to it.”
In the new formation, Southington overloads the midfield, forcing the other team to adjust and forcing opponents to play more of defensive style.
The change in formation also allows the Blue Knights to communicate better with one another, while also adding to the offense and defense.
“Our defenders work together better,” Southington forward Natalie Verderame said. “But we talk to each other more and we communicate with each other more, especially now being the middle of the season.”
Now that the Blue Knights understand the task at hand, they can use it to their advantage.
“We’re learning how to cope with [the change],” Southington forward Alli Carr said. “It helps us play with each other through the middle and playing out wide.”
“As well as making forward runs together and coordinated movement especially,” fellow forward Shannon Litchfield added.
It should only add to the problems the Blue Knights cause other teams. After all, the team has its sights focused on the Class LL title and after being ousted last season by eventual champion Ridgefield, the Blue Knights now realizes that being predictable isn’t going to bring it the success it wants.
“This team is very different today where we are as a program compared to years ago,” Linehan said. “Years ago it didn’t matter what formation we played. Now, we have too. Teams are scouting us, god bless us, we’ve never had teams scout us. It’s kind of a new territory and so I know coaches are going to come and take a look at us, so the words out.”
The Blue Knights are now not only more difficult to read on the field, but the opposing team isn’t going to know who to look out for. Southington will be firing on all cylinders.
“When they come and play us I’ve got to be able to adjust,” Linehan said. “They’re going to try to key in on certain players and I told [our players] I need to be able to not only change the formation but I have to move them to a completely different spot. Coaches will isolate and try to target those players so I have to move them around the field.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org