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  • Greg Lederer

Cheshire Boys' Lacrosse Wins Big In Saturday's Opener

Pictured above from top left: CHS boys' lacrosse posed after their opening victory; Joe Grenier made eight saves in his first start; Matt Jeffery tallied nine points at Joel Barlow; Adam Vernon kicked off the year with three goals and three assists. Photos by Greg Lederer.

by Greg Lederer

Cheshire Sports Media

Coming off a spring season in which they won their first Southern Connecticut Conference and state titles for the first time since 2010, the Cheshire High School boys’ lacrosse team was excited to start a new year on Saturday at Joel Barlow in Redding.

It took the Rams almost nine minutes to get their first goal, but after finding the back of the net, the boys never looked back in posting a 14-0 road win. CHS built an 11-0 lead by halftime.

“In the beginning, the guys were pumped up for the first game,” reflected Jeffery, a tri-captain with seniors Lucas Chymbor and Ryan Grove. “We were gripping our sticks too hard. I think we settled down after and took care of business.”

After earning National and Connecticut Player of the Year honors last spring, Jeffery kicked off the 2024 season with five goals and four assists. Senior Adam Vernon tallied three goals and three assists, while junior Brady Potyrala picked up a goal and two assists.

“There are always going to be some jitters for the first game of the season, but we picked it up,” stated Head Coach Mike Devine. “It was good to see the guys back out there.”

CHS started out slow on offense, but Vernon got them pumped up with goals at the 3:09 and 2:45 marks of the first quarter. Potyrala and Jeffery assisted on the tallies.

“Everybody had been waiting for this game,” recalled Vernon. “It felt great to put in those first two goals. Once those shots went down, we got into a groove.”

Just 22 seconds after Vernon’s goals, Jeffery scored to put CHS up 3-0.

The Rams pulled away with eight goals in the second quarter. Jeffery netted three goals in the spurt, while Potyrala, junior Aniston Marsh, Grove, freshman Grant Paul, and Vernon also scored.

Along with scoring in his debut, Paul picked up his first assist.

Grove was key to the Rams offense, winning all of his 14 face-offs.

“Obviously if you have possession, you put yourself in a good position to win,” said Devine. “Ryan has worked very hard at his craft. We are fortunate to have him on our team.”

In the second half, Jeffery and seniors Rocco Botti and Drew DePodesta scored for the Rams. DePodesta’s goal earned his first point on varsity.

“We have a lot of good players,” said Jeffery. “It is great when all the guys get to play. We all work hard in practice and earned that opportunity.”

The opener represented a stellar first start for junior goalkeeper Joe Grenier, who made eight saves and picked up his initial shutout. He felt a mix of nerves and excitement for the opener.

“I was excited to have my opportunity to play and show what I can do for this program,” explained Grenier. “It went really well.”

Grenier has succeeded two-year starter and 2023 graduate Connor Atwater between the pipes.

“Joe has worked very hard coming into the season,” said Devine. “He is one of the best goalies in the state. The guys feel good about him being back there.”

Defensively in the opener, Chymbor, Botti, seniors Logan Kranyak and Jack Suomala, juniors Evan Brown and JR Stevenson, and sophomores Braeden Turski and Jacob Rivera limited shots on Grenier.

“I felt very good,” said Grenier. “Talking is an important part of defense and I thought we communicated really well today.”

Due to injury, senior defender Tegan Danaher won’t play this year, but Devine feels that his presence will be vital for the team.

“You never want to see anyone get hurt, but Tegan cares about this team and I know that he will help us in a different role this year,” explained Devine. “He will be helping some of our younger guys like Rivera.”

Cheshire lost considerable experience in the graduation of eight players, but the Rams feel that their example and leadership will carry into this season.

“They meant like everything because I played with them since I was (in) like third grade. The friendships and relationship we have as teammates on and off the field is something that really helped me come to where I am today,” reflected Grove. “I really don’t know if I could be here without them and their support. I’m just trying to make them proud and continue.”

CHS is looking to defend their SCC and state titles. After winning the Class M state crown last year, CHS has moved up to Class L this spring.

“It was definitely a great experience. (It is) something we want to do again this year,” stated Chymbor. “That is one of our goals. We want to relive that and say that we did it twice.”

On Tuesday, the Rams face a tough test in visiting New Canaan (1-0) to play at 6:30 p.m.

“You want to play the best in the state,” said Vernon. “They say to be the best, you have to beat the best. We want that challenge.”

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