NEWINGTON – It all comes down to the final two games for Newington field hockey.
A win and a tie would likely be enough to secure the Nor'easters' first playoff appearance since 2016, but Tuesday's 6-0 loss to Avon forced Newington into the pressure-filled situation it's in now.
In the midst of a three-game losing streak as well, the Nor'easters can't afford another loss as they strive to keep one of their better seasons in recent memory alive.
“I tell them to think about the seniors and I also tell them that this is the best record we've had in four years,” Newington coach Veronica Grubin said. “They're part of something bigger than themselves, trying to do something we haven't done in a while so hopefully that motivates them and gets them going.
“It was a tough loss for us [on Tuesday],” Grubin said. “We were hoping for the win, because a win there would hopefully get us closer to a tournament berth.
Since taking over the head coaching post in 2017, Grubin has been building the Nor'easters back up after a winless first season at Newington. This year's team has already earned the most wins in a season under Grubin at 5-9 and a postseason berth would showcase the growth of the program in a few short years.
The Nor'easters' senior class of Maya Johnson, Menna Majdoub, Lavinia Oliviera and Samantha Reese have also been along for the ride during Newington's ascension and Grubin highlighted the importance of the four girls.
“They've seen it all,” Grubin said. “They're a big piece of why we've done so well over the years. They've bought into what we're trying to do here. We have a big junior class as well that has bought in as well so every year we just hope to do better than the next.”
The Nor'easters will honor their seniors before its pivotal matchup against East Catholic on Friday at Clem Lemire Field as part of its Senior Night celebration.
East Catholic enters the contest with a 3-9-2 record and have fallen in five consecutive games. Friday's showdown is essentially a must-win for Newington as its final game will be on the road at 13-0 Wethersfield.
The Eagles are the top-ranked team in Class M and have only allowed three goals throughout their 13 games.
A victory over East Catholic would take some of the pressure off the Nor'easters as they could settle for a draw with their rivals. Newington last beat Wethersfield in 2016, which also happened to be the last time it qualified for the playoffs.
With a lot on the line over the next few days, Newington hasn't lost hope in its efforts to become the first Grubin-coached team to continue on after the regular season.
The Nor'easters lost to Lauralton in the first round of the 2016 Class M state tournament after securing the eighth-seed with a 9-4-2-1 record.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.