CHESHIRE — Southern Connecticut Conference girls lacrosse rivals Cheshire and Hand have been familiar foes in the SCC tournament, meeting for the 18th time (semifinals and finals combined) on Tuesday in the semifinals at Cheshire High.
While the previous matchups have been close games, Cheshire took no prisoners scoring early and often in the first 28 minutes of the game.
Annie Eddy had six goals and three assists and Annie Acquavita added four goals and three assists to lead No. 1 Cheshire to a 19-6 win over No. 4 Hand. The Rams will face the semifinal winner between No. 2 Guilford and No. 6 Sheehan on Thursday at Strong Stadium in West Haven at 5:30 p.m.
The Rams (16-1) set the tone of the game early with five goals in the first five minutes and would lead 15-0 before the Tigers scored their first goal.
“You can never go into a game and expect it to be one-sided like this game was,” Eddy said. “Especially against a tough rival like Hand. But we all love playing in a big game like this. When you play a game like this, and it’s against your rival, you get a different feeling. You get more motivated and going into this game we knew had it in us to play really well.
“We’ve been getting balanced scoring all season and that’s what contributed to this win. Everyone chipped in and the scoring was spread out. We’re all excited to advance to the final again.”
The Tigers have had the Rams’ number the previous four SCC tournaments. Hand beat Cheshire in the final the last three seasons and in the semifinals in 2015.
“Hand always has a good program and you know they will never roll over,” Cheshire coach Dan Warburton said. “In the regular season we beat them in a close game and we relaxed a bit in that game. Today we came out focused. From day one this season, I stressed the only way to get to where we want to be is to play as a team and they have all bought into that concept.
“Eddy is a quality person, one of the best lacrosse players to come through Cheshire. But she bought into it and today you saw that entire team effort. It’s great to get back to the final, we all have that feeling of excitement.”
The first half was all Cheshire with Acquavita scoring with 2:24 to go for a 14-0 lead at halftime.
Eddy opened the second half with a goal to give the Rams a 15-0 lead with 22:12 to go.
Warburton decided to take Eddy and other starters out of the game for rest and to avoid any unnecessary injuries. That is when the Tigers’ offense kicked in and they started winning draws.
Regan Larson scored with 21:00 to go to cut the Rams lead to 15-1. Lauren Valluzi made it 15-2 with 15:39 to go and Janet Howard scored to cut the lead to 15-3 with 14:40 left. The scoring streak continued with Kacey Wines making it 15-4, and when Larson scored to cut the lead to 15-5, Warburton called time out.
He put his starters back in the game and the Rams scored the next four goals to put an end to the rally.