The Conard girls lacrosse team hosted Cheshire Saturday in West Hartford.
By Paul Palmer
Things started out about as well as they could for the Conard girls lacrosse team on Saturday as they faced unbeaten Cheshire.
The Red Wolves won control of the game’s first two draws and converted them into the game’s first two goals just 2:12 into play. Midfielder Nicole Gorman deposited a shot from 10 yards out into the net just 90 seconds in and Olivia Hole followed with a strong move from behind the cage, positioning off a defender and beating the goalie for the 2-0 lead.
The Rams took a timeout after the goal by Hole and regrouped. Less than a minute later Ava Maitkowski scored the first of her four goals of the match, and teammate Alex Lucas scored 17 seconds later to tie the game at 2.
Conard would run off the game’s next three scores with Gorman scoring her second off a great feed from Hole, then Ruby Czajkowksi made it 4-2 with her free position score, and at 9:31 she picked up a loose ball and fired one home to give the Red Wolves a three-goal lead.
On defense, goalie Maya Nanayakkara made some big stops to keep the momentum on Conard’s side, but Cheshire is too good a team to keep down for long. They had scored 19 goals in each of their first two games this season and at the back half of the first, they showed their strength. Lauren Samela scored back-to-back goals to cut the lead to one, and then the Rams scored twice in 42 seconds with Matikowski getting the go-ahead goal with :04 remaining to take the lead at the half, 6-5.
Conard had managed the early leads by controlling the draw, but Cheshire dominated them the rest of the way. “Nothing changed for Cheshire,” said Conard coach Meg Cersosimo about the game flow after the early lead for her side. “They controlled the draws and got positions they wanted.”
Nanayakkara finished the opening 25 minutes with 10 saves.
The two late goals by Cheshire seemed to energize them as they came out flying in the second half, scoring just 57 seconds in from the free position. The Rams could have had a bigger lead, but the iron was unkind as two shots clanked off the posts. Conard had its chances as well but goalie Avarey Bronson stopped free positions chances from Leah Williams and then Czajkowski.
Gorman would strike again for the home side at 15:34 to cut the deficit to 7-6. Another Cheshire goal by Matikowski was answered by Gorman with 11 minutes to play. It was all Cheshire from that point on as they would outscore Conard 5-2 over the final 10:32 to pick up their third win of the season.
“It was a tough, clean game and that’s what we want,” Cersosimo said after the loss. “Our defense did what we wanted to do and they didn’t give up a lot of clean shots.”
The 1-1 Red Wolves are back in action on Tuesday hosting RHAM, before making the short trip to Northwest Catholic on Thursday.
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