Twenty-four hours of a classic gridiron joust sandwiched by tournament turbulence, a day's work in the chill of a nippy New England autumn.
The Southington girls soccer team would be hosting a talented troupe from Trumbull in Fontana-ville in a Class LL quarterfinal at 2 p.m. The Mella-men would be squaring against Morrell's Marauders right next door at 7 p.m. Hmm, how to get it all done and tuck in the football story by 11 p.m.
How about the great job that Sal Penta did with a resilient group of girls who epitomize the meaning of the word team. Team as in family, that is.
Now the Knights have some serious soccer talent in Shauna Edwards, Molly Alfieri and Paulina Koziol. The supporting cast has been resolute all season in helping beat back the Simsburys, Glastonburys and Manchesters in the rugged CCC North.
But Trumbull, like other traditional soccer towns across the state, has a roster filled to the brim with talent. Like Southington, the Golden Eagles face their share of battles in Fairfield County against the likes of Greenwich, Wilton, Staples, Ridgefield et al. The Eagles massed their defenders around Southington's big three throughout and ignited dangerous counterattacks in the hope of catching the Knights' midfielders napping.
Finally, Trumbull's rangy junior forward Kristen Forster received a friendly cross directly in front of Southington keeper Alexis Braziel with all the defenders behind her. She knew exactly what to do, and the result ended the Knights' dream.
So it's 4 p.m. It doesn't make sense to venture home or to The Herald and lose my parking spot for the football game. I'm going to have to make a beeline after the football game to put that story to bed and timing will be everything.
Rich Marietta to the rescue. Rich and interim Southington athletic director arranged for me to use the AD's office to type up the soccer game. By 5 p.m., my soccer work is finished. The New Britain football team has arrived. The Southington players are out warming up, too, but how the heck am I going to warm up?
Aaah, those awesome Southington boosters have their football concession stand up and running, and yes, their hot chocolate is hot! The burger hit the spot, too.
Up in the football press box, the windows are open and there's no heat to be found. I hope the laptop functions OK in 35-degree temps.
Speaking of the press box, Steve Risser is quite the trouper, too. Risser assists Penta on the girls soccer team (his daughter's a freshman) and then he moves over to football where he's a meticulous PA announcer. He wants to know what the emperature is but there's no internet access up there. He checks and double-checks starting lineups and his peripheral announcements revolving around Senior Night and introductions for the magnificent Southington band.
The game goes on, I haven't had any coffee since breakfasts and I'm starting to feel that second-game slump. The game is exciting. New Britain fights the good fight but goes down 34-21. I get my quotes, hop in the car and go home to finish my story. I get it in just under the wire at 11.
My head hit the pillow and there was no need to count sheep. But noontime comes early, especially when you have to drive up to Suffield -- a tobacco farm or two from the Mass. border -- for the girls soccer game between Cinderella Plainville and perennial small-school soccer power Suffield.
It didn't seem that cold after Friday's double feature. The sun was shining, but that wind really whips through those northern Connecticut flatlands. It was cold. Plainville coach Leszek Wrona was so wrapped up in his parka that all you could see were his piercing blue eyes and rosy red cheeks.
As it was with the Southington girls against Trumbull, Plainville has some great talent up front but not enough to match Connecticut's northernmost soccer enclave. Suffield scored in the first half and the Plainville bus was about to turn into a pumpkin.
I drove back through East Granby, skirting the northern border of expansive Bradley International Airport. I just had to stop for a capuccino at Starbucks in Simsbury -- double shot of espresso to fulfill my caffeine addiction, of course.
It's 5 p.m. now. The Plainville story is finished. My cold fingers are still working well enough to wrap them around a few pieces of Joey Garlic pizza that my wife volunteered to pick up. I applied the kiss of death to two soccer teams and Paulie Morrell in a matter of just 24 hours. I hope I have better luck with Rob Jachym's Wethersfield boys and the girls teams at Farmington and Berlin next week.