In the Class LL semifinals on Wednesday, Cheshire High School girls’ soccer (top seed, 21-0-1) stayed unbeaten with a 2-1 victory over Ridgefield (fourth seed, 13-4-3) at Pomperaug in Southbury. Senior tri-captain Gabby Tirado scored both goals for the Rams, who advanced to the state final for the first time since 2008.
CHS never trailed in the game. After Ridgefield sophomore goalkeeper Riley Keane made a diving save on a shot by sophomore Leah Pisani, the Rams capitalized on a corner kick. Senior tri-captain Anna Hurlbut booted the ball into the box and Tirado netted a header with 29:28 remaining in the first half.
For Tirado, it was the first header goal of her career.
The score remained the same into halftime. The Tigers had a chance to tie the game on a free kick by senior Charlotte Kemp in the 45th minute, but Tirado was able to clear the ball for CHS.
Cheshire returned to extend their lead with 31:08 remaining. In receiving a pass from senior Haley Shaw, Hurlbut had a lob shot deflect off the post, but Tirado sprinted to the rebound and took a shot.
Keane tried to save the ball, but still kicked it into the left side of the net.
The Tigers didn’t quit and ended up cutting the deficit on a goal by senior Maya Rubio with 25:15 remaining.
In the 78th minute, Keane made a diving save on a shot by Hurlbut, but Ridgefield wasn’t able to get the tying goal and the Rams celebrated on the field.
Junior goalkeeper Sophie Bates made five saves for CHS.
Next, Cheshire will play Staples (third seed, 15-2-4) for the state crown on Saturday or Sunday at Trinity Health Stadium in Hartford. CHS seeks their third crown after claiming titles in 2003 and 2005.