SOUTHINGTON — The best season in program history for the No. 3 Southington field hockey team ended at the hands of the defending state champion, No. 6 New Canaan, in the Class L quarterfinals Friday on a rainy Fontana Field.
The 3-0 defeat was Southington’s first of the season in regulation. The two losses during the regular season to Simsbury and Glastonbury had come in overtime.
In the final reckoning, the 2022 Lady Knights were 14-1-1-2.
New Canaan, now 15-3-0, will continue its title state defense in the semifinals against No. 2 Wilton (16-1-1).
“They are the defending state champs for a reason and we just wanted to put up a good fight,” Southington coach Erin Luddy said. “We had our opportunities and we just didn't capitalize on it. We just wanted to stay focused and keep each other up, and that’s what they did.”
This was Southington’s third-ever trip to the state field hockey quarterfinals. The Blue Knights won their first postseason game in 14 years on Wednesday when they beat Fairfield Ludlowe 3-2 in overtime in the firstr round.
“To host two home games during the tournament is a boost for us,” Luddy said.
New Canaan took a 1-0 lead with 0.2 seconds left in the first quarter with a goal by senior Katherine O'Connell. It was the best scoring chance by either side to that point. Southington goalie Morgan Lasek made the initial stop, but O’Connell put in the rebound.
The Rams had two penalty corners in the first quarter and Southington had one.
The squads played a scoreless second quarter. The Rams had the best of the chances, but Lasek was up for the challenge on all three of their bids.
“Morgan did great today; she was on and was ready to play,” Luddy said of her goalkeeper, who made nine saves on the day. “She knew they were going to come in from all sides.”
Lasek made a kick save on Lucy Parsons-Hills with 8:30 to go in the second quarter, then made another kick save on Isabelle Schuh with 1:15 left.
The Rams also had a penalty corner in the closing seconds. Lasek made a stick save to keep it a 1-0 deficit at the break.
“We knew it was going to be hard, but we played a very good game and this was a great way to end the season,” Lasek said. “We’ve come together as a team and worked very hard and worked great together on the field this year. We competed very well and could have won this game. We competed very well.”
New Canaan doubled its lead with a goal by Shawna Ferraro from the right side that slid just by Lasek with 5:01 left in the third quarter.
Ferraro made it 3-0 with a second goal with 1:15 left in the third quarter.
“It took us a minute to wake up. Our whole season has been dedicated to them just playing their game and trusting each other, and after a while we finally excected,” New Canaan coach Megan Cunningham said. “Southington came out with a lot of energy. They put a lot pressure on us and it was a lot of fight. “
Rams’ goalie Ellie Rosen made two saves in the shutout.
This was the final game for a strong Southington senior class of Lilli Doran, Anna Shamus-Udicious, Carissa Murphy, Taylor Foresi, Erin Picard, Elyse Picard, Makayla Winegar, Kayla DePodesta, Nicole DePodesta, Ava Coppola and Lasek.
“These seniors have been together for the last three years and for them to be able to compete at this level is great,” Luddy said. “I know they are good, and for them to see that they can compete against teams like this is great.”
Luddy gets a grin on her face when she talks about the outgoing seniors, but it’s a bittersweet smile
“It’s going to be hard when they go,” Luddy said.