NEW BRITAIN - High school sports are back in Connecticut, with New Britain and Southington boys soccer helping begin the new season on Thursday afternoon to end a seven-month hiatus, but both teams were quickly reminded that this will be a season unlike any other.
The Hurricanes and Blue Knights each had their chances at Veterans Stadium, but ended regulation locked in a 0-0 draw, meaning the match ended in a tie due to new covid-19 restrictions that declare a game must end without overtime periods.
“I wish there was overtime,” Southington’s Liam Schroeder said. “But that just means we have to finish our chances and bury them in the net.”
The Blue Knights’ best shots to get on the board came almost immediately, dominating possession through the opening 20 minutes, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
“We’re going to come out hard,” Southington’s first-year head coach Austin Magaro said. “We’re going to fight for every point we can get. We’re happy to get a point on the road, but we’re also frustrated to not bury a couple of those chances early.”
On the other end, New Britain started the second half with a flurry of chances, but like the Blue Knights, was unable to come through and break the scoreless tie.
“The performance they gave in the second half is what we’ll expect from them all season long,” Hurricanes head coach Garth Lawrence said.
Southington dominated the early pressure, generating a shot just 90 seconds into the first half by Mitchell Messina off a corner kick that deflected wide of the net, and a loose ball in front minutes later was smothered by New Britain goalkeeper Mikolaj Urban.
Seven minutes into the first half, a through ball from Mathew Morgan to Ryan Salzillo was led just too far and picked up by Urban before Salzillo could get a shot on net. With 29 minutes to go, a centering pass to Cole Marek was saved by Max Sczcepanik, who had replaced Urban in net, as the Blue Knights continued to keep the field slanted towards the Hurricanes’ goal.
New Britain finally generated some pressure of their own 15 minutes into the match but could only muster a long-distance shot from captain Cameron Naples, which was easily corralled by Ryan Lunn in net.
Southington went right back on the attack near the midway point of the half when Jakub Szymanski’s header off a corner kick glanced just wide of the net. Marek had a quality chance minutes later with an open look from right in front of the net, but his shot rolled wide of the far post.
Amdwel Salmon had a strong chance for New Britain with five minutes left in the half, but Lunn came out of the net to smother the loose ball before Salmon could get a shot off. The Blue Knights responded with their best chance of the half when a corner kick sailed right to Trevor Sousa, who sent a header on net but right into the lap of Sczcepanik, who was perfectly positioned to make the stop and keep the game scoreless through the end of the half.
The Hurricanes came out firing in the second half behind senior Davoy Samuels, who took a floater from Omar Alwishah but couldn’t get the shot past Lunn. Samuels had another chance at an open net with 17 minutes left on the clock, but his rolling shot was stopped by a diving Lunn, who had once again kept Samuels out of the scoring column.
“I’m expecting him to give me at least 20 goals this season,” Lawrence said of Samuels. “That’s my expectation for him because he has those kind of skills. He just needs to take his time and get those balls back in the net.”
New Britain had one more quality chance with 4:30 left, when Samuels again found himself deep in the attacking zone before drawing a foul. Naples took the free kick from 25 yards out, but his shot sailed just wide of the net, and the two teams settled for an unfamiliar tie.
“I think we had a lot of chances,” Samuels said. “But we needed to get some goals.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org