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  • Greg Lederer

Cheshire Boys' Lacrosse Comes Up Short Against Rival In SCC Final

Cheshire and Fairfield Prep boys' lacrosse starters lined up before playing in the SCC final. Photo by Greg Lederer.

Cheshire lacrosse player Matt Jeffery netted the opening goal of the SCC title game.

by Greg Lederer

Cheshire Sports Media

Last spring represented a breakthrough for Cheshire High School boys’ lacrosse in the Southern Connecticut Conference. With a 8-7 overtime victory in the title game, the Rams both beat Fairfield Prep and won the tourney for the first time since 2010.

On Thursday at West Haven, the Rams sought to defend their championship, however this time, their rival used their depth to come away with a 17-8 victory. After halftime, top-seeded Fairfield Prep (17-1) used a 9-3 advantage to gain separation against CHS (second seed, 14-4).

“We knew our guys were going to be jacked up to go. It is an emotional game,” stated Head Coach Mike Devine. “It’s a game you want to be in and this program deserves to be in, but they just kind of went on their run. It was a possession game. They had a lot of possessions and we unfortunately didn’t.”

Back on May 2 of this year, Fairfield rallied to pull out a 14-13 overtime victory over the Rams. Thursday’s rematch was also tight at the outset.

Just 38 seconds into the game, Cheshire jumped ahead on a goal by senior tri-captain Matt Jeffery. The Jesuits scored twice, however, the Rams tied the game on a tally by senior Adam Vernon.

After Fairfield retook the lead on the second goal by junior Nathan Estrella, junior Sean Grevelding converted on a feed from Jeffery to allow Cheshire to draw even again.

In the final 1:32 of the opening quarter, the Jesuits put in two goals to take the lead for good. Fairfield opened the second with two more goals to go up 7-3.

CHS rallied with tallies by Vernon and Grevelding. Junior Brady Potyrala and senior tri-captain Ryan Grove assisted on those respective goals.

With 49.3 seconds left, Fairfield found the back of the net to take an 8-5 lead at halftime.

Coming out of the break, the Jesuits netted the opening four goals. With 1:11 remaining in the third, Grevelding scored on passes from Jeffery and Vernon, but Fairfield responded at the other end to take a 13-6 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We said at halftime that we were kind of going up to ratchet up the pressure a little bit. It kind of backfired on us a little bit, but our kids fought,” explained Devine. “Our kids played hard. I’m proud of our program. We’re a tough group and this is going to fire us up for the next two weeks.”

With 9:33 left, Grevelding set up a goal for Jeffery, but, the Jesuits ran the clock and reeled off four goals. Junior Luke Shannehan (four goals, four assists), senior Tim Shannehan (three goals, four assists), and Estrella (five goals) were point leaders for Fairfield.

On face-offs, Grove was able to win 18 of 28 opportunities, however, the Jesuits were able to force turnovers and come up with ground balls.

“I thought that Grove played well. He gave us a chance,” reflected Devine. “They just put a lot of pressure on you. Once you get it (the ball), you have to get it to your attack. The pressure kind of dies down once you get it to your attackmen. They (the Jesuits) are a well-coached team and we’ve got to be ready for the next two weeks.”

To cap the scoring with 9.6 seconds, Jeffery posted his third goal of the game.

Fairfield had extended possessions in the fourth quarter, but junior goalkeeper Joe Grenier stood tall with 12 saves.

Jeffery received SCC Player of the Year.

“Matt is very selfless person. He looks at it as a team award, too. I think he would trade a player of the year for an SCC Championship every day of the week,” stated Devine. “It is just the type of person he is. He is a tremendous player, but he has some really good players around him, too.”

Jeffery, senior tri-captain Lucas Chymbor, Grove, and Grevelding made the All-SCC First Team. Vernon, Grenier, Potyrala, and senior Jack Suomala were recognized on the second team.

While coming up just short of defending their conference crown, the Rams can still win a second straight state title. As the top seed in the Class L, Cheshire will play East Catholic (17th seed, 8-9) in the first round on May 29.

The game is currently listed as 4:30 p.m., but since it is expected to be pushed back into a night game, an update will be posted early next week.

Last spring, CHS won 18-3 over Daniel Hand in the Class M title game.

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