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  • Greg Lederer

Rams Boys' Lacrosse Comes Up Just Short To Rival In OT Thriller

With three seconds left in regulation, Nick Miller scored on a pass from Matt Jeffery to tie Fairfield Prep at 13-13.

by Greg Lederer

Cheshire Sports Media

Last spring in the Southern Connecticut Conference final, the Cheshire High School boys’ lacrosse team celebrated a long-awaited moment. In winning 8-7 in overtime, the Rams ended a 13-year drought against rival Fairfield Prep. 

For this year’s first meeting on Thursday, the teams went to extra time again, only this time, there was a different winner at Fairfield University’s Rafferty Stadium. Junior Luke Shannehan netted his game-high eighth goal with 2:17 left in overtime, propelling Fairfield Prep to a 14-13 victory over the Rams.

Both teams entered the game with 10-1 records.

“I thought we did some really good things tonight. I thought some guys, who this is their first time playing big-time minutes, and they really stepped up in some big moments,” said Cheshire Head Coach Mike Devine. “I’m proud of our group and I’m proud of the way we battled. We are going to fix some mistakes. As a coach, I made some mistakes, too, and we’re going to fix those. I’m going to be better for our guys come the next time we see them (Fairfield Prep).” 

Early in the fourth quarter, the Rams had momentum on their side. Just 23 seconds into the frame, senior tri-captain Matt Jeffery scored to put Cheshire up 10-7.

Goals from senior Timothy Shannehan and junior Nathan Estrella allowed the Jesuits to pull to within a goal, but Cheshire regained their three-goal advantage (12-9) on tallies by Jeffery and senior tri-captain Ryan Grove.

Facing another deficit, the Jesuits rallied on a 4-0 run in a span of 2:18. Luke Shannehan had three goals during the spurt and Timothy Shannehan also found the back of the net.

“I knew we needed the fourth one (a four-goal lead),” reflected Devine. “They’re a fantastic team. They are seasoned in these type of games and I think our lack of being in tight games kind of showed. That is on me getting these guys prepared and I’ll be better for these guys.”

With 2:10 remaining in the fourth, Luke Shannehan’s seventh goal put Fairfield up 13-12, but the Rams were able to capitalize on a final possession. From the outside, Jeffery sprinted around the net and passed to junior Nick Miller, who scored to the tie the game with just three seconds left in regulation.

“A lot of teams give a lot of attention to Matt and we have to be great off-ball players,” said Devine. “Nick Miller was in the right spot at the right time and stuck a big-time goal for us.”

CHS had seized momentum, however, the Jesuits controlled the opening face-off in overtime and set up Luke Shannehan’s game-winner.

“We knew that it was going to come down to a face-off. We knew it was going to come down to a ground ball,” reflected Devine. “We are going to see these guys again. We’ve got to take it one game at a time and one step at a time, but I like the direction our team is moving.”

The first half was similarly tightly played. Cheshire took advantage of a Jesuits penalty to jump ahead on a goal by junior Sean Grevelding, but Fairfield came back with goals from junior Finbar Malloy and Luke Shannehan.

Junior Brady Potyrala converted to tie the game, however, Fairfield used a goal from Luke Shannehan to go up 3-2 at the end of the first quarter.

Cheshire drew even again just 23 seconds into the second, as senior Adam Vernon scored on a pass from Grevelding.

After Fairfield went up 5-3 on goals by Luke and Timothy Shannehan, Cheshire answered with tallies by Jeffery and Miller to tie the game at halftime. With the clock running down, Grevelding found Miller at the post for the tying goal with just four seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Jeffery ignited his team in the third quarter, netting three goals and also assisting on a tally by Potyrala to put CHS up 9-7. Jeffery led the Rams offense with six goals and two assists.

“He is a special player who instills confidence in his teammates,” stated Devine. “He is a very unselfish player. He is a tremendous athlete and tremendous kid. We all did some great things tonight.”

While the Jesuits rallied to get the win in overtime, the Rams feel that they will learn from the rivalry game.

“I wish we could have pulled that one out, but again, I really like where a team is at,” stated Devine. “Despite the loss, we’ll learn from this and get better from this.”

In his first game against the Jesuits, junior goalkeeper Joe Grenier stood tall with 16 saves, including multiple stops on point-blank shots.

“That is a really good offense over there. There are some really good shooters. They’re well-coached and well-trained from all over the state,” said Devine. “Joey stood on his head. I think Joey is one of the top goalies in the SCC if not in the state. He showed up tonight. We are going to make some changes and we’ll better next time.” 

The Rams will look to bounce back when they come home to play Iona Preparatory School (New York) on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

In the third quarter against Fairfield Prep, Cheshire lacrosse player Matt Jeffery netted three goals and added an assist. He finished the game with six goals and two assists.

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