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  • Greg Lederer

Cheshire Boys' Lacrosse Rides Fast Start To Semifinal Victory Over Simsbury

CHS boys' lacrosse is excited to advance to the state semifinals for the second straight year. Submitted photo.

Matt Jeffery tallied six goals and three assists on Wednesday. His final goal clinched a new Cheshire single-season record (83).

Adam Vernon netted five goals against Simsbury.

by Greg Lederer

Cheshire Sports Media

After winning 15-4 on April 27 at Simsbury, the Cheshire High School boys’ lacrosse team brought familiarity into their rematch in Wednesday’s Class L semifinals at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury. On the strength of a fast start, the Rams proceeded to sweep the season series and reach a state final for the second straight year.

CHS (top seed, 17-4) netted the opening eight goals against Simsbury (fifth seed, 12-8) and rode that momentum into a 16-6 victory. Seniors Matt Jeffery compiled six goals and three assists, while senior Adam Vernon put in five goals.

“That’s definitely a tone-setter,” said Vernon, of the opening run. “It makes it tough for the other team to come back. It kind of demoralizes them. It is always a great thing to get an early lead. We are happy with that.”

Cheshire shut out the Trojans, 7-0, in the first quarter and then Jeffery scored just 48 seconds into the second.

In the early surge, Jeffery and Vernon both netted hat tricks. Senior Ryan Grove and junior Brady Potyrala also scored.

“We kind of got flowing. Our defense stood tall,” explained Head Coach Mike Devine. “We made some mistakes in the beginning. We were a little jittery to start, but we did a great job of settling in and playing a team game.”

Along with scoring a goal, Grove was key to the Rams establishing possession. He won 16 of 22 face-offs in the game.

“It is always great because I trust my offensive players more than anything,” stated Grove, a tri-captain with senior Lucas Chymbor and Jeffery. “I know they can get the job done and my job for myself is just to get them the ball and it feels great when I can do that and even score a few goals in the process.”

After the Rams were whistled for a pair of penalties, Simsbury ended the shutout on a goal by freshman Kellen Shields with 7:34 remaining in the second quarter, however, Cheshire responded with goals from junior Sean Grevelding, Vernon, and Jeffery to take a 11-1 lead into halftime.

In scoring for the last time with 6:38 remaining in the third quarter, Jeffery set a new CHS single-season goal record (83). Brad Heritage set the previous mark (82) in 2001.

“I think Matt would trade every record for a win on Sunday (in the finals),” stated Devine. “He is just that type of player. He is a great goal scorer and a great player.”

Grevelding (assist) and Potyrala both posted two goals against Simsbury.

Shields led the Trojans with two goals. Seniors Wyatt Gwinn and Andrew Diviney, sophomore Gavin Bulger, and freshman Maximus Konopka also found the back of the net.

Simsbury tallied two of their first three goals on extra-man opportunities, but, the Trojans found less open looks with the Cheshire defense playing at full strength. Junior goalkeeper Joe Grenier made 10 saves in the win.

On Sunday at Sacred Heart University, the Rams seek a second straight state title when facing St. Joseph (second seed, 15-5) at 3 p.m. Heading into the game, Cheshire has outscored their competition, 34-11, in the tournament.

“I can’t wait,” stated Grove. “I know they are a good team and we can’t take them lightly, but it is going to be a good battle between two good teams.”

Last spring in the Class M final, Cheshire won 18-3 over Daniel Hand to earn the program’s first state crown since 2010.

“It definitely wasn’t easy,” reflected Grove, of the journey back to the state finals. “We knew we had our work cut out for us this year. We knew we couldn’t just win and come back and win again, so it was definitely a grind during the off-season and all season this year. We were just working up to the moment to come back and do it again, but it definitely wasn’t easy and hopefully our hard work shows on Sunday.”

Sunday’s game will represent the final contest for nine Cheshire seniors.

“It’s definitely going to be an emotional game for all of us. A state championship always is,” stated Vernon. “(It will) definitely (be) for the seniors being the last game in these pads. I think we’ll all take it in. We’ll appreciate the moment, but when the whistle blows, we’ll be ready to go.”

After finishing his CHS career at SHU, Grove will transition to attending the university and playing lacrosse for the Pioneers.

“I can’t wait,” said Grove. “I love the field and I love playing there. Hopefully, we can win a championship there this year and then my next four years, too. Hopefully, there’s a lot of wins on that field in my future.”

Ryan Grove won 16 of 22 face-offs in the Class L semifinals. He also scored a goal.

Goalkeeper Joe Grenier stood tall with 10 saves on Wednesday.

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