SOUTHINGTON -The Southington girls soccer season came to an unsatisfying end last year when it fell in the second round of the Class LL tournament to eventual champion Ridgefield. But that’s when the real work started.
Once the tournament was over, the players immediately began the process of preparing for this season. Nearly the entire team plays soccer all year round.
“There have been a lot of things that has led to our success this year,” said Southington head coach Michael Linehan after the team’s 7-0 win over Platt Tuesday afternoon. “After we lost in the state tournament last season the girls immediately went to work and you could see their attitude change. A lot of them went to their clubs teams and worked real hard over the summer.”
During Linehan’s summer camp, the head coach brought in soccer coaches from Shelton High School.
“They said, ‘Oh this group has an attitude,’ and I knew from that point on that they were going to do something special,” Linehan said. “That’s how hard they’ve been working. I think this season it’s a byproduct of how much work they put into the offseason to be honest.”
Southington is currently tied for the No. 7th spot in the Connecticut coaches poll. The team it’s tied with is Mercy (9-1), a Class L school, who was ousted in the first round of the state tournament last year.
“[Being ranked seventh] gives us the drive to get a higher seed [in the state tournament],” forward Ali Carr said. “That’s another factor for us to keep moving forward, we want to get to that No. 1 spot.”
“The effort in the practices and how seriously we take it,” said forward Natalie Verderame, one of Southington’s captains. “We show up every day, we put in 100 percent every single day, no one takes it as a joke. Everyone has the same mentality.”
Linehan keeps reassuring the Blue Knight they now have a responsibility to perform, whether it’s at practice or during a game, because there will be a target on their backs.
“This is very uncharted territory for us,” Linehan said. “They’re learning what it takes to take on responsibility. Instead of the bottom of the bracket, they worked up to the top.”
Southington opened its season to a 4-0 start and is now 9-1 with its lone loss being to Class LL-powerhouse Glastonbury (8-0-1). Last season, the Tomahawks were rank sixth in the tournament, earning a first-round bye.
“Going into the tournament this year, we want to be that one team to have a bye,” forward Shannon Litchfield said. “We want that first game to be a bye so we can go right into the second round as our first game.”
Of course, that’s only one of the Blue Knights’ goals this season.
“Ultimately, we want the title,” Carr said.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org