Fall season is just about over, but that hasnâ€™t stopped some area athletes from keeping those seasons going for at least one more game or from picking up some impressive postseason awards.
Two local standouts accomplished their goals this past week in Southingtonâ€™s Johnny Carreiro and Abigail Sowa, and are this weekâ€™s Athletes of the Week for their performances against top competition.
The Southington football team faced off against Darien in the Class LL semifinals on Monday, but would certainly not be in the position had it not been it not been from some big plays from its defense with Carreiro coming up with two key turnovers.
The Blue Knights beat Cheshire in the Apple Valley Classic on Thanksgiving on a goal-line stand on a two-point attempt in double overtime, but the game might not have even gotten to that point had the unit not come up a critical play in the first quarter. Facing a 2nd-and-goal from the 8-yard line, the Rams chose to give the ball to Sean Cangiano, an offensive lineman. Max Casella punched the ball out and Carreiro recovered to keep the game scoreless to that point.
The win, coupled with a Blue Waveâ€™s loss to New Canaan, ensured Southington the No. 2 seed in the state tournament, where Carreiro came up big once again, this time against Ridgefield.
With the Blue Knights leading 7-3 midway through the third quarter, Carrerio intercepted an Owen Matthews pass. Six plays later, Southington scored the game-deciding touchdowns on a 5-yard pass from Brady Lafferty to Carter Uhlman. The Tigers scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter and had a chance to win the game on Hail Mary pass on fourth down with 45 seconds remaining, but that was broken up.
The whole regular season, we played a lot of run-heavy teams, a lot of ground-and-pound teams and the DBs come in week in and week out, looking for more challenges and looking to take the ball away and looking for opportunities to get better,â€ť Carreiro said. â€śI couldnâ€™t be more proud of those guys for stepping up the way we did. I knew we had it in us and were a great unit from all the work we put in the offseason. Just proud of my guys for stepping up when we needed to.â€ť
The Southington girls soccer team enjoyed a historic season in 2019, marching all the way to the state championship game before suffering a close 1-0 loss to third-seeded Glastonbury. Along the way, the Blue Knights enjoyed an undefeated regular season, posted 16 shutouts and never trailed in a game until that loss to the Tomahawks in the state final.
Now, the individuals behind the team are raking in the awards, particularly Sowa.
The United Soccer Coaches announced their All-Region teams last week for fall girls soccer, and Sowa was one of two local athletes that made the list (along with Olivia Mullings of Newington).
The junior midfielder was named to the All-New England team after finishing the regular season with 10 goals and a pair of assists, and also added a key tally in the quarterfinals against New Canaan, when she knocked in a penalty kick to stretch Southingtonâ€™s lead to 2-0, in what was a 3-0 victory to propel the Blue Knights to the semifinals and eventually their first state final appearance since 2002.
Sowa had been heavily relied upon for much of the season, but Southington needed her even more when the postseason began after teammate and fellow junior Shannon Litchfield, an all-conference selection last season, went down with an injury that forced her to missed the postseason. Sowa responded with her clutch goal in the quarterfinals and overall solid play to get the Blue Knights to within one win of their first state championship in 17 years. The team came up just short, but with a load of players returning, including Sowa, Southington might find itself right back in position to win a state title next fall.
If Sowa continues her vast improvement on the field, which resulted in regional recognition this year after not appearing on the all-conference team last year, she will be one of the teamâ€™s most potent goal scorers in 2020.