NEWINGTON - The Newington girls soccer team enjoyed an easy 5-0 win against Bristol Eastern on Tuesday afternoon, but head coach Adam Wilkinson was more concerned with what could have been improved on a day when the Indians looked dominant.
“On paper it looked great at 5-0, but in terms of the first half, there was a lot of work to do,” Wilkinson said. “I was a little frustrated with the first half. We had a scouting report that they were going to sit and catch us on the counter attack, so I told the girls about it before the game and a lot of the things I told them to do, they didn’t do.”
Such a direct focus on making improvements is a necessary mindset for a team with goals like Newington currently has.
Going into the year, the Indians wanted to get back to the state tournament and make a deep run, this time against top competition after being bumped up to Class LL.
To prepare for the type of opponents it will face in a LL state tournament, the Indians hope to first take down a perennial contender at the conference level, which will provide a perfect tune-up for greater challenges that would await afterward.
“Wethersfield has won the conference two years in a row, and we’d like to knock them off,” Wilkinson said. “It will be tough, but we’re off to a good start. We played a tough opponent in East Catholic last week, and the girls reacted well and came back. (Tuesday), we controlled the game well in the second half.”
To take down a program like the Eagles, Newington would need a balanced attack where contributions could come from anywhere. Tuesday provided a glimpse into that potential, as the Indians scored five times from five different players, starting with All-State junior Olivia Mullings.
“I think it’s amazing,” Mullings said of Newington’s current team. “We work together really well and we’re really meshing this year. I’m excited. I feel like we have a chance this year. Because the team is so close, I feel like we’re going to go really far.”
Wilkinson sees the same widespread contributions on his team, and while Mullings may be the centerpiece of a hopeful contender, he knows that Mullings goes as far as the rest of the team will take her.
“I’ve had players like that in the past…but the team as it’s structured right now, it’s more of a whole team collective,” Wilkinson said. “Olivia gets into a lot of good situations, but a lot of the work is done by the teammates behind her. She just finishes them off.”
The Indians were devastated by an overtime loss to Masuk in the second round of the Class L tournament last season, and have their sights set on redeeming themselves in LL action this year.
With Mullings leading the way, and a strong supporting cast behind her, Newington is confident in its ability to shake up the top of the CCC and make a memorable introduction to its new class at the state level.
“Last year it was my team supporting me, and now we’re even stronger,” Mullings said. “I’m just excited for this year. It’s going to be great.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org