Due to the breakout of the coronavirus last year, the Cheshire High School boys’ lacrosse team had to wait a whole year for the chance to play an official game again.
The pandemic has recently impacted the team again, only this time, Cheshire feels fortunate that they can continue to feed their passion on the field.
This week, the Rams learned that 15 players were named as COVID-19 close contacts. Head Coach Mike Devine said that his players haven’t tested positive as of yet, but they will be staying in quarantine until Tues., April 27.
According to state law, students can return to school after a 10-day quarantine, but athletes need to go 14 days before competing again.
“It is a tough situation, but we want to stress preparing our guys for the games ahead of us,” said Devine. “There is a lot going on around our world right now and we understand that the health of our community is the most important thing.”
Devine is appreciative of other schools for allowing the Rams to reschedule games. Cheshire has planned to use a combination of freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity players for two games before getting their full roster back.
“When we talked as a team, we said that we would focus on our motto of getting two percent better every day. We will find a way to get stronger as a program,” explained Devine. “Teams in the SCC (Southern Connecticut Conference) and the state have been very helpful in moving games.”
CHS was unable to find a date to play Staples on Saturday, but in their place, the team set up a game against nearby rival Sheehan.
While missing a large portion of their varsity team, Cheshire (3-0) displayed their depth in a 15-2 win over Sheehan (1-2).
“It’s been a tough week for us. A lot of our starters were out for this game, but in our program, we talk about the next guy needs to step up,” said senior Evan Stern. “For us, it’s not about being a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior. Everyone has the opportunity to play on the field.”
CHS took control from the outset on Saturday, building a 6-0 advantage in the first quarter and extending the lead to 11-0 at halftime. Junior Max Manware opened the scoring just a minute and 42 seconds into the game.
“We wanted to bring the energy from the start,” reflected Manware. “That (mentality) is what this program is all about.”
In the first quarter, sophomore Ben Thompson put in his first two goals and classmate Aiden Larke also found the back of the net for the first time. Stern added a goal in the opening frame.
During the first half, junior Andrew Benjamin netted three goals, two of which came in the second quarter. He opened the third with his personal-best fourth goal and added his first two assists.
“We are excited about what we showed today,” said Benjamin. “We have so much depth on the team this year.”
Along with completing their first hat tricks in the second half, Stern and Manware both finished with a career-high three assists.
“Max is an athlete who loves the game of lacrosse,” said Devine. “Evan works so hard. He is passionate about the game.”
The Rams held a 14-0 advantage before Sheehan senior Justin Williams scored to end the shutout with 50 seconds remaining in the third. Williams returned to net his team’s second goal during the fourth.
With two goals and an assist, Larke earned his first points. Thompson joined Larke with a personal-high two assists, while senior Jack Davis supplied a goal and three assists (career high).
Since senior Aidan Gaudet was out of the lineup, freshman Ryan Grove stepped up to win 18 of 21 face-offs. A four-year varsity player, Gaudet has controlled 40 of 45 face-offs this spring.
“Ryan did a great job for us,” stated Devine. “It is awesome to know that we have a lot of great young players in our program.”
Sophomore Connor Atwater, who backs up senior goalie Andrew Vernon, tallied four saves in his first start. Classmate Mike Bowman made his debut off the bench and picked up a save.
Tuesday’s game at Shelton was past press time. From there, the Rams are currently working on their schedule.
“Our goal is to go 1-0 each day whether it is practice or in games,” said Devine. “The kids are working extremely hard. We strive to be great and the guys have been meeting that standard for us.”