South Windsor came to town and soundly defeated Rocky Hill 15-1, but the 14-point discrepancy isn’t what disappointed head coach Michael Albano the most.
“They’re a great team, but we have to bring it. If we don’t come out and give everything and lay it all out there against a team like that, they’re going to destroy you and that’s what we got,” the third-year coach said, “I just want them to come out and have some passion out there. If I see that passion, I don’t care if we lose the game. If we lose, we lose. But if you bring it and leave it on the field, I’m happy.”
Albano’s team was facing an uphill battle against the Bobcats from South Windsor, who entered the contest with a perfect 9-0 record. It was yet another tough test in what has been a brutal schedule for the Terriers, who fell to 4-6 in defeat.
“We have a lot of good, young players and it’s just about meshing it together. We do it against some of the weaker teams, but it’s tough when you play a big-school team that’s skilled like this,” added Albano.
The visiting Bobcats pounced early and often, jumping out to a 3-0 advantage in the first ten minutes of action on goals from Tyler Osit, Connor Smith, and Matthew Greer.
Junior Joseph Ferreira put the Terriers on the board at the 1:12 mark of the first period, finding the back of the net after receiving a perfect pass from sophomore Riley Donovan.
Ferreira’s goal temporarily energized the home team, but South Windsor’s Kyle Foley scored less than a minute later and the visitors added three more scores before the break, taking a commanding 7-1 lead into halftime.
Nearly all of South Windsor’s goals came from close range, making life difficult for Rocky Hill goalie Peter Lucente. Albano reminded his team during timeouts and again after the game of the importance of keeping the opposing offensive players away from their goal.
“What I was explaining to our guys is that in front of our goalie is the crease and that’s where you make a living on the defensive end. You can’t let guys tiptoe through there and score on your goalie, you just can’t do it,” said an impassioned Albano.
Lucente, who is a three-year starter, made several outstanding saves during the game, helping keep the score from being more lopsided than it was.
“He’s incredible. He probably had 20 saves,” Albano said of his senior goaltender, “In my opinion, he’s one of the best goalies in the state. We have a young team around him in certain spots, so a lot of pressure has been put on him. It’s just about getting guys around him that are going to help him.”
Rocky Hill threatened to score multiple times in the second half, but South Windsor’s swarming defense and rock-solid netminder Kyran Blackwell thwarted any and all attempts.
The Bobcats added five more goals in the third and another three over the final 12 minutes to complete their tenth victory in convincing fashion.
Greer scored a game-high five goals and Osit added three. Smith, Foley, and Jake Klemba each tallied two, and Benet Saylor added the other.
The struggles are uncharted territory for Albano, whose Terriers have hosted and won a playoff game in his first two seasons on the sidelines. The coach said that in order to keep the postseason success alive the team will have play with more consistency and passion on both ends of the field.
“We have a bunch of young kids playing and it shows at times. They’re still learning, so it’s been up and down. We have to play better against the good teams. We can’t drop balls and we have to play tight defense,” said Albano, who added that he likes to schedule superior out-of-conference teams to challenge his team, “I want to play the better teams, because I want them to be ready once we get into the playoffs. It does make you better. The higher competition makes you better.”
It’s been a challenging season so far, but the coach is optimistic about the development of his underclassman, which includes his son Andrew
Albano, who has been playing long-stick midfielder and defense. He also credited fellow sophomores Josh Cavallo, who has been handling the faceoff duties, and Chris Conlan for their development this season.
The Terriers closed last week with another daunting task, losing 20-4 to undefeated Somers at RHHS. It was the team’s sixth home loss of the season, but the schedule eases up a bit over the final few weeks of the regular season.
The coach said that he’ll rely on his leaders, such as Ferreira, who he described as a good, tough player. He’ll also be leaning on the eleven seniors, which includes Lucente and fellow 2016 All-Conference selections Sam Cimini, Hunter Held and Ricky Montalvo. The seniors have all performed well, but now it’s about finding the right chemistry and giving that extra effort.
“We just have to come out stronger and play stronger,” added Albano, “There’s got to be more passion if we want to beat the good teams.”
The team ends the regular season with two of their final three games at home, starting with a tilt against Tolland on Mon, May 15 at 5:30 p.m. They travel to play Cromwell on Wed, May 17 and host Berlin on Fri, May 19 for the regular season finale. The Cromwell and Berlin games both faceoff at 4 p.m.
Lagace, Newington Softball Finding Groove
After losing their first game of the season, Newington softball has reeled off eleven straight victories, including wins over Wethersfield, Glastonbury, Rocky Hill and Bristol Central last week. Pitcher Kat Lagace has been lights-out during the winning streak, hurling six shutouts and multiple double-digit strikeout games. Sophomore Cyan Gonzalez has been delivering from the plate, leading the team in hits, runs and RBIs.
Wethersfield Baseball Soars
Eagles’ baseball is flying high, entering the week with an 8-2 mark. The team picked up an important win of the road last Wednesday, defeating Platt 9-8 behind a pair of homeruns from Tyler Fote and Jimmy Sullivan. Next up is another tough road test against New Britain at Beehive Stadium, Thursday May 11 at 7 p.m.
Middletown Softball Going Yard
Blue Dragons softball has won 11 of their first 12 games, with their only loss coming by a single run. Last week they beat Rocky Hill and Manchester by a combined score of 39-2. The team has several power hitters that are going yard early and often this season, including senior Briana DiMartino who hit back-to-back homeruns in a 23-0 victory over Rocky Hill. The team is in the middle of a three-game home stand with Wethersfield coming to town on Friday, May 12 at 4:15 p.m.
Turnaround for Cromwell Baseball
The Panthers baseball team started the season with three losses, but they have since rebound to win 11 of 13 games entering the week. Sean Melaven has been the catalyst behind the turnaround, leading the team in RBIs. The senior has drove in three runs in wins over North Branford, East Hampton and Portland. Luke Matchett has also been solid from the plate, leading the team in hits and runs, and Noah Budzik has been consistent from both the plate and mound.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin