Newington, Southington unable to break through in scoreless tie

Published on Friday, 15 October 2021 20:04
Written by TYLER HETU


NEWINGTON - Newington and Southington girls soccer tied Friday night, walking into the weekend with a 0-0 final after 80 minutes of action.

The Blue Knights were on the attack all game, holding possession in the attacking third for roughly 70% of the contest while the Nor'easters held firm in front of the goal.

Several chances from Southington's skilled forward Nina Muir came in the first half, but went for naught. Chances in the box also came in the second half from a myriad of Blue Knight attackers, including a Jessica Carr shot just going wide in the final 10 minutes of play, but Newington's back line and keeper stood tall and cleared the ball several times to keep the game scoreless.

Southington head coach Mike Linehan expected a battle Friday night, taking on a Newington team that has outscored opponents 14-2 across a 4-0-2 stretch dating back to Sept. 21.

The physical play from both sides was apparent, and Linehan knew his side was going to need something 'special' to break down the back line.

"[We expected] exactly what I saw," said Linehan. "... Well coached team, so that in itself [we expected]. We knew they were going to be tough defensively, they're very well organized, and we knew we were going to have to do something special to break them down. We had some chances, ... I knew (Newington head coach Adam Wilkinson) was going to be well organized, the midfield was aggressive to the ball and both offenses didn't [capitalize], and that's where we need to go back to work."

Southington threw 18 shots on goal, with two keepers for Newington making nine saves each. The attempt to divert Newington's defense was a plan for Linehan to get scoring chances worked, but none had a finishing touch that found twine.

"What we were trying to do, knowing they were well organized defensively, we were trying to create diversions where we had runners in space and playing on the backdoor," said Linehan. "We tried to create that diversion, and were getting the opportunities. I tell the girls it's a game of inches, ... we continue to work on the little things and just continue to get better."

On Newington's side, Wilkinson had an idea of what Southington would throw at them, but a different formation to start threw them off in the first half, and adjusted through the back end of the first and into the second half. Wilkinson pointed out the inability to generate much momentum on offense as one of the downsides to Friday's game, but the defense played well enough against a high-scoring Southington squad to earn the tie.

"They're one of the teams this year that has been scoring a decent amount of goals," said Wilkinson. "We have been very good defensively in shutting teams out, so I was kind of expecting a tight game. We didn't create enough offensively and defensively we kind of rolled our luck a little bit. ... I was hoping we could keep them out, sneak a goal, but we didn't create enough offensively to win the game, but I thought we defended well enough to at least get a tie out of it."

Much of Newington's offensive attempts came from it trying to send the ball up and over Southington's center and fullbacks, aiming for a forward to gain possession of the ball with space behind her and the defense.

The opportunities often came off clears out of the defensive end, where Southington had filled the attacking third and pulled the defense up, but the Nor'easters were unable to successfully do what they were trying to do when the chances came.

"We've been working on finding the ball through the gap, or it's over the fullback," said  Wilkinson. "We were under hitting the ones over the top or we were holding on to the ball too long and (Southington) was able to close down the gap behind. There wasn't really the space to play the through ball, but when we did we over hit the pass or we didn't take care of the ball when we had it. There were a lot of little things that broke down, and we've got to go back to practice to work on it."

Southington (5-1-5) goes back to work Tuesday, back on its home turf, at 3:45 p.m. against Farmington. Newington (5-1-3) returns to action Wednesday night, at home, against Rocky Hill. Kick comes at 6 p.m.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Newington, Southington on Friday, 15 October 2021 20:04. Updated: Friday, 15 October 2021 20:07.