GUILFORD — The Guilford field hockey team stunned undefeated and No. 1-seeded Cheshire in the Saturday’s SCC Tournament championship game, wresting away a crown that seemed destined to be worn by the Rams.
Against a team that had allowed just one goal all season, Guilford scored three and won going away, 3-1.
“We definitely didn’t play our best,” said Cheshire coach Eileen Wildermann. “There were some disciplinary things that we weren’t getting done, like winning 50-50 balls and worrying about external things that we can’t control. We had distractions and those things can’t get in the way of a play.
”Plus, Guilford played phenomenally.”
Guilford play was highly aggressive throughout the first half. The Indians controlled the ball for a large portion of the half, kept the pressure on the Rams’ defense and forced eight penalty corners.
With 15:24 to go in the first half, Guilford struck first. After allowing four straight penalty corners, Cheshire finally got burned. Ella Stanley knocked in the goal for a 1-0 Guilford lead.
In the second half, the ball control was divided more evenly, with Cheshire putting pressure on Guilford’s goal.
With 11:59 to go, Cheshire tied the game 1-1. Kayla Sansone knocked in the goal with an assist from Kylie Jackson.
Momentum was short-lived for the Rams, though. With 8:39 to play, Maddie Epke put Guilford back on top.
Guilford didn’t stop there. The Indians kept the pressure on after the Epke goal and, with 1:44 left, delivered a dagger. Hannah Tillier got around her defender and broke in alone.
With less than two minutes and down two goals, for the first time this season, defeat was inevitable for the Rams.
Cheshire goalie Lexie Hemstock, who has 17 shutouts on the season, was very busy throughout the game with 14 saves. One came on a breakaway.
The Rams, now 18-1, hope this loss will provide motivation in the state tournament, where they are seeded No. 1 in Class L.
“It’s hard,” said Wildermann. “The year we won the state championship we had one loss. One loss is such a motivator, so I think while you don’t want it to happen in the SCC championship, that’s always motivation.
“There are no undefeated teams in the state anymore, and that’s good. Everyone knows what is at stake and that gave us some definite motivation.”All-SCC
The All-SCC field hockey teams were announced at halftime. Leading the way: Cheshire’s Mikayla Crowley, who was named the SCC Player of the Year.
Hemstock and Cheshire teammate Annie Eddy made All-SCC First Team. Cheshire’s Jade Barnes and Olivia Salamone were on the Second Team along with Lyman Hall’s Alivia Celentano.