WEST HAVEN – Cheshire junior Quinn Donahue remembered the last time Cheshire and Notre Dame met earlier this season. That contest, a one-goal victory for the Rams, was defined by well-played defense.
The second meeting of the two teams was no different, but this time Donahue was the difference maker. Scoring twice, including the eventual winner with 24 minutes, 10 seconds left in the second half, Donahue led the Rams to a 2-1 victory over the Green Knights in a Southern Connecticut Conference Oronoque Division contest at Veterans Stadium in West Haven Tuesday afternoon.
“We knew coming in this was a must win if we were fighting for the division,” Donahue said. “We came in with a set game plan and we were able to get the win. This is big. We know we have the loss to Guilford. We know we have to keep winning.”
With the win, Cheshire improved to 5-4-2 overall and 4-1 in the division, just behind first-place Guilford, who the Rams will see again later in the season.
The game was even at one when Cheshire’s Evan Esposito bent a perfect pass over to Donahue on the right side. Donahue raced in and headed a shot past Notre Dame goalkeeper Rory Schreck for a 2-1 lead.
“This is his best game of the season so far,” Cheshire coach Artur Branco said of Donahue. “We have talked with the forwards about being more creative. Today, we were able to create some space.”
Donahue’s second goal proved to be big as the Green Knights (4-4-3, 2-3) tied the contest 9:35 into the second half when Sean Mufarinya slid a perfect ball on the end line to Matthew Consorte in front. Consorte neatly tapped a shot past Cheshire goalkeeper Nathan Pisani for the equalizer.
“When the game was on the line, Cheshire executed and we didn’t,” Notre Dame coach Rudy Raffone said. “At the end of the game, they executed a great cross and head ball. We missed some good opportunities.”
Notre Dame had one final scoring chance, but a shot by Sean Hayes from 20 yards out sailed wide with 18 seconds left in the game.
The Rams put their defense on display from the start as they limited the Green Knights to just five shots in the game, including only one in the opening half. That shot, from 25 yards out by Bradley Doyle, sailed just wide of the goal with 11:41 left in the opening half.
While locking down the Green Knights in the first 40 minutes, Cheshire took a 1-0 lead with 25:23 remaining in the half with great work off a corner kick.
Jack Loura’s corner kick went to Toby Goldstein, who dished a perfect pass to Donahue. The junior spun around and fired a shot past Schreck for the only goal the Rams would need.
“We knew the importance of this game,” Donahue said. “It was a perfectly led ball to me. All the credit goes to my teammates. We know if we keep working hard, good things will happen.”
The Rams controlled play in the opening half, but Schreck was up to the challenge. The senior goalkeeper turned aside a blast from Alexander Irizarry from in front seven minutes in, made a diving save on an Esposito shot from 30 yards out with 21:25 to go, and stopped a rocket by Donahue from 20 yards out with 13:30 to go.
Pisani finished with four saves for Cheshire, while Scheck made seven saves for the Green Knights.