NEWINGTON - When Zack Zarookian came to coach the Newington boys lacrosse program, he said, â€śItâ€™s going to take time. Itâ€™s going to take two to three years to get this program to where it needs to be.â€ť
Two to three years later, the Indians have kick started their season 7-2, two games away from having their first winning season in the last five years.
â€śIn terms of the progression and how far the program has come, were really happy about it,â€ť Zarookian said. â€śNow weâ€™re trying to play to win games.â€ť
Recently, the Indians faced their biggest test of the season, South Windsor. The Bobcats finished an undefeated season last year 17-0, earning the No. 2 spot in the Class L state tournament.
Newington and South Windsor have history. The first time Zarookian competed against the Bobcats, three years ago, the Indians fell 14-2. Last season, the Indians lost 21-6 and during the conference semifinal game were beaten 17-7.
â€śFor us we really wanted to prove to the rest of the state and the conference that weâ€™re much further than weâ€™ve been,â€ť Zarookian said. â€śWe were 7-1 going into this game, but none of our wins were really that impressive of wins. Weâ€™re really looking for a quality win.â€ť
Unfortunately, the Indians will have to wait another game before they can clinch their postseason spot. Newington fell in double overtime to South Windsor on Thursday afternoon.
Although the Indians lost, they have come a long way from where they were three years ago.
â€śWe have a six-team conference and this was our first conference game of the season,â€ť Zarookian said. â€śIn the past we were just trying to play with these teams and be in the same ballpark as them, but now weâ€™re actually trying to go out and our goal is to win the conference title. And thatâ€™s our goal. We have come a long way from just being happy to losing to South Windsor by five or six goals.â€ť
Newington is trying to make a statement. It wants to show that it can go out and beat one of the top teams in its conference. The Indians have never won a conference championship in school history and theyâ€™re looking to change that this year.
â€śThese kids come every day to practice and they really bought into the whole philosophy of if you play hard, youâ€™re going to make small plays,â€ť Zarookian said. â€śThey play really hard and with a lot of intensity, they also play with a lot of heart every day in practice.â€ť
During practice Zarookian instructs a lot of simulated transition games, and the kids are always going full speed. Â
â€śThereâ€™s no faulting their effort or their commitment, theyâ€™re always here,â€ť Zarookian said. â€śWeâ€™re definitely happy with the progression weâ€™ve made. We want to keep moving. Weâ€™re excited. Weâ€™re proud of the kids. They play hard and the rest of our schedule is very difficult. Weâ€™re just going to keep competing and keep playing. Weâ€™re trying to take down some big dogs.â€ť
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org