NEWTOWN >> Ever since a painful defeat at the hands of Darien in last season’s Class L final, Cheshire’s mission has been to get a chance at redemption. Thanks to senior Michelle Federico, the Rams will have their chance.
Federico scored the go-ahead goal with 29:27 remaining in the second half to lift No. 2 seed Cheshire over third-seeded Greenwich 2-1 in the Class L semifinal at Blue and Gold Stadium in Newtown Tuesday.
The Rams will face the defending Class L champion Blue Wave, who beat No. 4 Simsbury 5-0 in the other semifinal, Saturday at Weathersfield at a time to be announced.
Rams coach Eileen Gallagher said the team graduated its entire defense from last season, but the girls are ready for another shot at the Class L crown after a 4-0 loss to Darien in 2012.
“Last year was heart-breaking for them,” Gallagher said. “They want another dig at Darien.”
Cheshire, which won its third consecutive Southern Connecticut Conference title this season, heads into the Class L title game hoping to complete another mission, according to Federico.
“All year we started off and we had a goal in mind,” she said. “That was to win three banners, first was regular season, second was SCC and this is the third one. We’re going to go for three.”
The Rams scored first, courtesy of an unassisted Erica Stauffer goal to make it 1-0 at the 19:41 mark. Greenwich answered right back, thanks to a Sarah Stinebaugh goal off an assist from Erica Hvolbeck to tie it up with 18:03 left to play in the half.
Cheshire’s defense took over from there, keeping the Cardinals from getting any good looks. Whenever the ball got past the defense, goalkeeper Madeline Levy was there to stop it, with five first half saves and 11 for the game.
Federico broke the tie early in the second, with what would turn out to be the game-winning goal. She said it was made possible by the team’s stellar defense.
“Our defense pushed forward and gave me a path up the middle,” she said. “I had a nice lane up the middle and a took a nice shot.”
The Rams held serve for the rest of the second half, possessing the ball for much of it and wrapping up the victory. Gallagher said the Rams turned it on in the second.
“In the second half we figured it out and figured out how to play together,” the coach said.