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  • Greg Lederer

CHS Girls' Lacrosse Comes Up Just Short In Comeback Bid Against Staples

From left, Georgiana Sheehan, Tema Caplan, and Mollee Merritt helped Cheshire girls' lacrosse stage a rally against Staples. Photo by Greg Lederer.

Against Staples, Tema Caplan scored three goals, including this shot on a pass from Mollee Merritt.

by Greg Lederer

Cheshire Sports Media

Playing nail-biters has been a theme for the Cheshire High School girls’ lacrosse team this year. Of their 14 games, seven have been decided by two goals or less.

Thursday night extended that trend, as Cheshire’s game against Staples came down to the wire at Alumni Field. While missing three key players due to injuries, the Rams (8-6) dug deep to cut the deficit to a single goal three times in the second half, but fell 9-8 to the Wreckers (9-5).

“We don’t usually get off to great starts, but we finish the games strong,” explained sophomore Tema Caplan. “We want to play the same way for the whole game.”

On Thursday, momentum shifted in the opening quarter. Cheshire went up 1-0 and 2-1 on goals by goals by sophomore Tylie Lawless and Caplan.

Junior Sarah Goldstein assisted Caplan.

Staples countered with the passing of senior Keira Best, who assisted on two goals by freshman Noelle Tybur and another tally by freshman Chloe Smith to earn a 3-2 lead.

A minute and 41 seconds into the second, junior Mollee Merritt found Caplan for a goal in the middle. The tally tied the game at 3-3, however when the Rams received a penalty card with 8:48 left in the quarter, the Wreckers responded with goals from Best and Tybur and carried a two-goal lead into halftime.

“It was hard to give up those goals with us down a player, but they had cards, too,” stated Head Coach Dan Warburton.

In returning for the third quarter, Staples extended their run to 4-0 on two goals by Smith.

The Wreckers had taken the game’s biggest lead at 7-3, but the Rams defense kept Staples from pulling away.

Sophomore goalkeeper Georgiana Sheehan came up clutch with nine saves.

“It felt good to get them and get the ball back to the offense,” recalled Sheehan. 

“Georgie had a great game,” added Warburton. “She kept us in it.”

After being held scoreless for almost 19 minutes, Cheshire broke through for three goals to end the third quarter. Merritt ended the Wreckers’ spurt with a free-position shot and then just 11 seconds later, sophomore Lauren Kilpatrick scored on a pass from Lawless. 

With 12 seconds remaining in the third, Merritt converted on a wrap around shot to pull the Rams to within 7-6.

“It was a great feeling to get those goals when they are needed,” stated Merritt.

Establishing possession was key to the rally.

“The biggest thing was that we started winning draws in the second half,” reflected Warburton. “In the first half, we would have to get a stop or force a turnover to get a possession.”

Caplan played a key role in winning draws.

“It felt good to come up with the ball for the team,” said Caplan.

Just 1:22 into the fourth quarter, junior Alex Hackett scored for Staples, however, Merritt assisted on a goal by Kilpatrick to cut the deficit to 8-7.

After Tybur put in her fourth goal with 8:01 remaining, Caplan responded with her third goal to make the score 9-8 with 3:30 remaining.

The Rams had one more possession inside two minutes, but weren’t able to convert on two shots and came up short by a goal.

Thursday represented the third time that Cheshire has dropped a game, 9-8, in 2024. The Rams played to the same score against Conard (April 19) and host Daniel Hand (April 29).

Warburton liked seeing his team rally against Staples. With the Rams having just three seniors, he hopes that playing a tough schedule will help prepare a youthful roster to peak at season’s end. 

“We have to play a full 48 (minutes). It seems that we have a lapse in a quarter every game,” explained Warburton. “We don’t start well in games, so we want to fix that and be more consistent.”

Along with playing lacrosse, the Rams wore special shirts to raise awareness for Morgan’s Message. Cheshire also accepted donations for the 501(c)(3) organization that aims to eliminate the stigma around mental health for student-athletes.

They also strive to equalize the treatment of mental and physical well being in sports.

“It is so good to play for something and make a difference,” stated Merritt.

Next on May 13, Cheshire hosts Farmington (10-3) at 6 p.m.

On Thursday, Cheshire girls' lacrosse raised awareness and money for Morgan's Message. Photo by Greg Lederer.

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