NEWINGTON - It was far from the day the Newington girls lacrosse team had expected.
The Indians fell behind big early and the rout was on from there as they were dominated by Conard Tuesday 19-2.
The Chieftains were in control of the game from the beginning.
They found the back of the net just 1:08 into the game and proceeded to score the first 12 goals of the afternoon. Newington didn’t get their first shot-on-goal until 5:03 left in the first half, and didn’t find the back of the net until 3:50 before the break.
“Not just today but in other games [as well], we get in our heads a lot,” Indians head coach Allison Hoffman said. “We are working on trying to keep our energy up and not give up when we face a team like this that comes out hard right off of the bat. We let it get to us and it really does affect the way we play.”
Newington had an issue keeping control of the ball. The team committed nine turnovers, five of which came off of simple, errant passes. Conard also kept the pressure on offense and constantly moved the ball which allowed seven different Chieftains score.
“When a team is pushing that hard, it scares us,” Hoffman said. “We have a tendency to try to get the ball to goal as quickly as possible instead of settling it and that’s something that we’re working on as well because when we turn the ball over a lot, it’s when we’re trying to rush to goal and hit the first cutter, instead of settling the offense.”
Maya Gajowiak was the lone bright spot for Newington, netting a goal in each half. She also did well on the draw, getting credit for six possessions, just one fewer than the entire Conard team.
Hoffman praised Gajowiak after the game, highlighting how Gajowiak’s confidence and “game sense” has allowed her to be more productive on the draw control.
“We play a lot of tough teams, so I just try my best to stay positive,” Gajowiak said of her leadership role. “When we’re down 10 and the clock is running, I just try to keep pushing and keep the intensity high because anything can change.”
One change the Newington coaching staff wants the team to take going forward is the increased physicality. In the first half, the Indians gave Conard a lot of open space. The second half, however, saw a different Newington team defensively, which picked up six of its eight fouls forced Conard to work for every goal.
The Chieftains scored seven goals over the final 25 minutes compared to 12 in the first half and didn’t find the back of the net for the final 6:58.
“We’re not giving up early,” Newington assistant coach Jalen Middlebrooks said. “We’re going to face the challenge head on and just give it our hardest. We just have to keep battling.”
The Indians have a quick turnaround before their next game on Wednesday, when they’ll travel on the road to take on Simsbury.
“We saw a lot of improvement at the end [of today’s game], so for tomorrow, we know what to do,” Gajowiak said.
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org