On Wednesday at Foran in Milford, Cheshire High School girls’ lacrosse (top seed, 15-3) won 14-7 over three-time defending champion Guilford (third seed, 12-7) to earn their first Southern Connecticut Conference tournament title since 2014. Along with going 2-0 against their rival this spring, the Rams extended their win streak to six games.
Guilford jumped ahead 2-0 on goals by senior Ella Clarke and junior Payton Root, but Cheshire responded with a 5-0 run to take the lead to stay. Senior Lauren Samela scored twice in the run, while junior Stella Tessier and seniors Sophia Surato and Ava Matikowski also found the back of the net.
Matikowski added two assists in the surge.
Guilford senior MJ Santa Barbara scored to cut the deficit to 5-3 at halftime, however, Cheshire used goals from Samela, Matikowski, and Tessier to gain separation.
While receiving a two-minute penalty card in the second half, the Rams didn’t allow their rival to score in that span. Samela put in consecutive goals and Matikowski scored to propel Cheshire to a 12-4 advantage with 5:19 left.
The Grizzlies chose to face guard Cheshire’s offensive leader, senior co-captain Ava Harris, but the Rams used their depth to counter the strategy.
Matikowski finished with four goals and three assists. For her efforts, she received SCC Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Samela netted three goals in the second half and tied her career high with five total. Junior Stella Tessier posted a hat trick.
Senior Alex Lucas joined Surato with a goal.
Defensively, Cheshire held the Grizzlies to just seven goals in both of their meetings this spring. Senior goalkeeper Audrey Bronson recorded nine saves in the final.
CHS hadn’t won the crown in nine years, but they had placed runner-up five times in that span.
Root led Guilford with a hat trick on Wednesday.
CHS now prepares for the Class L Tournament.
Boys’ Lacrosse (second seed, 15-3)
Like the girls’ team, the Rams also ended a long drought against a powerhouse team. In overtime, Cheshire won 8-7 over six-time defending champion Fairfield Prep (top seed, 15-3).
The Rams hadn’t beaten the Jesuits or held the SCC crown in 13 years. Back in 2010, Cheshire beat Fairfield three times.
On Wednesday, the rivals were tied 7-7 going into extra time. After stopping the Jesuits to open the frame, Cheshire called a timeout.
In the winning isolation sequence, junior Matt Jeffery drove into the middle and converted on a bounce shot with 3:16 left in overtime.
Momentum see-sawed in the game. CHS struck first on a goal by senior quad-captain Charles Kurtz, however, senior Peter Grandolfo scored twice to earn Fairfield’s only lead (2-1) in the first quarter.
Cheshire rallied in the second. Jeffery put in two goals and junior Ryan Grove scored off a face-off to propel CHS to a 4-2 lead.
Jeffery’s first goal was the 100th of his career.
Fairfield senior Marco Firmender ended the run with a goal, but sophomore Brady Potyrala converted with 11 seconds left in the second and Cheshire took a 5-3 lead into halftime.
Just 51 seconds into the third, Jeffery netted a diving shot to put CHS up 6-3, but Fairfield came back with goals from senior Tyler Fox and Firmender.
With 9:20 remaining in the game, Kurtz set up sophomore Sean Grevelding for a goal.
Cheshire’s 7-6 lead was fleeting, as the Jesuits tied the contest one last time on a goal by senior Maddux Little with 5:08 left.
CHS had a chance to win the game in regulation, but were unable to score on a couple of shots in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
The Rams still came away victorious on Jeffery’s fourth goal in overtime.
Senior goalkeeper Connor Atwater, who shined with 15 saves, received SCC Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Along with his goal, Grove controlled 11 of 17 face-offs.
Grevelding joined Kurtz with an assist in the victory. CHS also received a boost in the return of senior Jack Watson, who had missed the last six games due to injury.
After winning the SCC title as a player in 2010, Mike Devine claimed his first crown as head coach.
Cheshire now awaits seeding for the Class M playoffs.