FIELD HOCKEY: Cheshire snaps Guilford’s winning streak at 33

FIELD HOCKEY: Cheshire snaps Guilford’s winning streak at 33

CHESHIRE — Sophie Vagts vividly recalls the Cheshire field hockey team’s trip to Guilford last year.

Facing off against an unbeaten rival, she was excited to score the opening goal, but then had to watch Guilford close the first half with six goals en route to a 6-1 win.

On Thursday, Vagts and her teammates got redemption in a big way.

Vagts scored twice, including the eventual game-winner with 9:18 left in the third quarter, to help the Rams earn a 3-1 victory that snapped Guilford’s 33-game win streak.

Guilford's last loss? Against the Rams, 1-0, on Oct. 19, 2018.

“This is an amazing feeling,” said Vagts. “This game proves how much we’ve improved since last year and how much character we have.”

“Yesterday, I said to the girls that Guilford has a really good returning team,” said Cheshire coach Eileen Wildermann, her team now 4-0. “I knew that it would be a tough task to beat them, but this is such a positive team. They came in today ready to execute the game plan.”

In a battle between elite programs — Guilford won the last two Class M state championships — the game turned into Cheshire’s favor during a single sequence. After being shut out in the first half, Guilford (2-1) rallied to tie the game at 1-1 on a goal by senior Hannah Tillier with 9:59 left in the third quarter, but it took just 31 seconds for the Rams to regain the lead.

Raegan Bailey set up the go-ahead tally. The senior broke free down the right side and then sent a shot to the left corner. The Guilford defense deflected the ball back into the middle, where Vagts was waiting. She scored to put Cheshire up 2-1.

“That (goal) showed our personality as a team,” added Wildermann. “It was so easy to get down, but the girls responded.”

While playing Guilford to a scoreless first quarter, the Rams felt that they got off a great start. Coming into Thursday, Guilford had scored 16 goals in two games, but CHS limited the Indians to just one.

Wildermann utilized a defensive formation, with seniors Megan Crowley, Danielle Floyd, Taylor Warburton, and juniors Lauren Houle and Becca Prior playing key roles.

“The defense played amazing today,” said Bailey, a co-captain with senior Tarana Eldredge. “I’m so proud of them.”

While the Rams have an experienced defense, their goalkeepers are new to the varsity level. In seeing their most pressure of the season, junior Hannah Jalowiec tallied a personal-best seven saves and sophomore Elise Hurlburt added two saves in the second quarter.

“We knew that we were going to face a lot of pressure, but everyone played well on the team,” said Jalowiec.

Offensively, Cheshire struck first with 10:53 remaining in the second quarter. On a penalty corner, Warburton inserted the ball to Houle, who sent the ball into a crowd. Vagts tipped it into the cage.

“I can always trust Sophie or Raegan to come up with a tip for us,” said Houle.

Guilford appeared to have tied the game with 33 seconds left in the second quarter, but a goal was waved off for a shot taken outside the circle.

“We had the lead at halftime, but I told the girls that we can’t take anything for granted,” said Warburton. “We had to finish the game.”

After the rivals traded goals in the third quarter, Cheshire stayed aggressive. In the opening two minutes of the fourth, Bailey made a cross to the left post, but Guilford goalkeeper Julia McDonald made a point-blank save on a shot by junior Emily Curtis.

“I was annoyed, but that was an amazing save,” reflected Curtis.

A midfielder who came to Cheshire from England this summer, Curtis came back to score the final goal on a penalty corner with 11:17 left. After passes from Warburton and Houle, Curtis fired a shot into the cage.

“That goal shows that we don’t quit,” stated Curtis. “It feels amazing to be a part of this team. All of the girls are so skilled.”

For Guilford, McDonald and Eve Young made seven saves in goal. After their big win, the Rams have a week off before they travel to play Lyman Hall next Thursday at 4 p.m.

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