BRANFORD >> The breakaway speed of Cheshire midfielder Michelle Federico and the shooting ability of forward Emma Farrel has served the Rams well throughout the season.
The combination wasn’t too shabby in the Southern Connecticut Conference championship game either.
Farrel scored two goals and Federico had a goal and an assist to lead No. 1 Cheshire to a 3-1 win over No. 2 Hand on Wednesday as the Rams earned their third straight SCC tournament title at Branford High.
The Rams improve to 17-2 and the Tigers fall to 16-2-1.
“Being down 1-0 at halftime, I was concerned,” Cheshire coach Eileen Gallagher said. “We needed patience. I give all the credit to our senior class of Emma Farrel, Michelle Federico, Danielle Bellantoni, Olivia Larson and our goalie, Maddie Levy.
“The seniors stepped up and our juniors did, too. They waited for their opportunity and the Farrel/Federico factor took over.”
The first half was a defensive struggle for both teams, but the Tigers took advantage of one of their rare opportunities and went into halftime ahead 1-0.
Following a failed penalty corner, the Tigers regained possession in the Cheshire zone and worked the ball in front of the left post. A scramble ensued in front of Levy.
Hand’s Allison Duncan gained control of the ball and chipped it to Brenna Hobin near the right post. Hobin one-timed a shot that rolled past Levy into the lower-right corner with 7:29 left in the half.
The Rams started possessing the ball more in the second half and the Farrel/Federico factor got the Rams going. Federico bolted down the right wing on a breakaway and sent a long pass to Farrel in front of Hand goalie Mel Rennie. Farrel wristed a quick shot past Rennie to tie the game at 1 with 19:53 to go in regulation.
“That first goal was a key goal because it allowed us to get back into the game,” Farrel said. “In the second half, we just wanted to play hard, have fun and win the game for the seniors.”
The Rams’ pressure continued.
Federico, named the tournament most valuable player, took a shot that hit the right post, but the ball rebounded to Farrel, who wristed another shot past Rennie to give the Rams a 2-1 lead. Federico scored unassisted with 1:24 left in the game for the 3-1 final.
“Their goalie did a great job, but Michelle and Emma are great competitors and they were the difference in the game,” Hand coach Sue Leckey said. “There’s no insurance with a 1-0 lead against a team like Cheshire that can score in bunches.”
Rennie had eight saves for Hand and Levy five saves for Cheshire.
Cheshire 3, Hand 1
Hand 1 0 — 1
Cheshire 0 3 — 3
First half—HD: Brenna Hobin (Alli Duncan) 7:29; Second half—CH: Emma Farrel (Michelle Federico) 19:53; Emma Farrel 13:03; Michelle Federico 1:24;
Shots—HD: 6; CH: 11;
Saves—HD: Mel Rennie 8; CH: Maddy Levy 5;
Team records—Hand 16-2-1; Cheshire 17-2