Apr. 21—GLASTONBURY — Ken McCarthy likes to challenge his Somers High boys lacrosse team.
It's not uncommon for the veteran coach to have a couple of Class L "challenge" opponents on his non-league schedule to see what his Class S squad can do.
In 2021 however, McCarthy has nearly as many "challenge" games as he does regular games.
"We were kind of forced into playing everybody," McCarthy said. "So, that's the difference this year. If we had one or two of those games that were our reach games, being a Class S school and having a few L games, I welcome that and that's great for us. But we're in the fire now."
The team played its second straight Class L opponent on Tuesday, falling 16-4 to Glastonbury on the road as Cole Wallace and Josh Heaney each scored five goals for the winners.
Somers still has four games against Class L teams left in 2021. The main reason for the tougher schedule is that Somers is competing in the CCC this season. Normally, Somers plays in the NCCC. But the Spartans and the five other NCCC teams — Canton, Ellington, Granby, Rockville, and Suffield — were absorbed into the CCC this season due to the pandemic.
The Spartans are playing in the CCC Central Division, the only NCCC team placed in that division. Joining them in the Central are Avon, East Catholic, Simsbury, Glastonbury, Southington, Hall, and Conard.
"It's a one year deal," McCarthy said. "I hope it remains a one year deal. I'll still schedule a few games, and I'd still schedule a Glastonbury or Simsbury. But I wouldn't have seven of those games."
Following a 14-goal win over Ellington to start the year, the Spartans have dropped back-to-back games to Simsbury and the Guardians by a combined score of 25-9. The team hadn't lost back-to-back regular season games since 2015.
But the Spartans aren't hanging their heads about losing to stiffer competition.
"At the end of the day, if you put your head down and let it eat you, then you don't really deserve to win," senior midfielder Garrett Maznicki said.
Maznicki added that he feels the games against the larger schools have a much higher intensity level than what the Spartans are used to.
"It's nice to go out there and beat teams by 16 or whatever we did in years past," he said. "But this almost kind of gives us a sense of urgency to know we have to work harder and we've got to earn everything that comes our way."
There are still plenty of chances left in 2021 for the Spartans to prove themselves, including their remaining games against Class L opponents: Southington, Hall, Conard, and South Windsor. Somers beat the latter three in 2019.
McCarthy knows that each one of those games, as well as all of the games against non-traditional opponents this year, will only make his team better once it's time for the Class S tournament.
"It should help us if we play a St. Joe's in the tournament or a New Fairfield, who's in Class S this year," McCarthy said. "They're playing the big boys and they have a few losses on their record. It'll be good for us. We'll have the same benefit that they have had by playing tougher competition."
Kayden Hinchey and Parker Wallace each scored twice for Glastonbury (2-2), while Liam Doyle and Holden Conroy scored once. Hinchey added four assists while Capers Shaw and Colin Hersom each had two.
"Throughout the game, our offense got confident and kind of saw what the defense was giving us and knew where the open guy would be," Glastonbury coach Scott Hinchey said. "I think we still left a couple out there on the table, but I'm happy with our unselfishness as a team."
Ryan Bell and Graham McLaughlin each played a half in goal and combined for six saves in the win.
Ryan Symington had a hat trick and an assist for the Spartans (1-2). Jacob Grondin also scored while Cooper Barrett had an assist. Tyler Poulin and Tyler Watt split goaltending duties, combining for seven saves.
Somers is at the Rockville co-op Saturday. Meanwhile, Glastonbury is off until April 29 when it travels to Southington.
EAST CATHOLIC 13, NEWINGTON 9. In Manchester, Ava Eklund (5) and Mallory Bartlett (4) combined for nine goals while adding four assists apiece in East Catholic's season-opening CCC Central win.
Kelly Queen added two goals for the Eagles while Meghan Croyle and Maddie Fischer had one each. Goalie Maren Riley made eight saves.
East Catholic hosts Somers on Thursday.
RHAM 12, WINDSOR 6. In Hebron, Taryn Simon and Ciara Murray had hat tricks as RHAM picked up a CCC Central victory to move to 3-0.
The Raptors led 9-4 at the break. Madison Masna and Joelle Goralnick chipped in two goals each, while Madelena Graves and Morgan Czarnecki had a goal and an assist apiece. Goalie Love Lanzuela made six saves. Emily Kijak had five goals for Windsor (0-2).
SOUTH WINDSOR 10, CONARD 7. In South Windsor, Maliya Haddock's five goals and three assists paced the host Bobcats to the CCC North win.
Sam Van Horn added three goals while Victoria Jarvis chipped in two goals and two assists for South Windsor (1-1). Kayden Burke also had two assists. Goalie Ciara Styles made 17 saves. Coco Haverty netted a hat trick for Conard (1-2). South Windsor is at Somers Friday.
ELLINGTON 17, LEWIS MILLS 1. In Burlington, Taylor Murphy (5), Katie Hurlburt (4), and Kaitlyn Boone (4) combined for 13 goals as Ellington routed Lewis Mills in a CCC South contest.
Megan Johndrow and Kelsey Harnois added two goals each for the Knights. Goalie Ali Kozik made 11 saves and was aided by the defensive play of Shea Harnois and Katie Murphy.
SUFFIELD 13, MIDDLETOWN 9. In Middletown, four goals by Zoe Kaplan paced Suffield (2-1) to a CCC South victory.
Mackenzie Chevrier and Georgia Qua netted hat tricks for the Wildcats.
Gabby Mandirola added two goals. Ava Toomey made five saves for Suffield.
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