CHESHIRE — The Branford girls lacrosse team scored the first two goals of the game against Cheshire in the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament semifinal at Cheshire High’s turf field on Tuesday.
The sluggish start by the Rams didn’t sit well with coach Dan Warburton.
“We were just slow out there, not playing (like) we have been during practice,” Warburton said. “We weren’t being aggressive and we were stagnant on offense.”
With the Rams trailing 4-3 in the first half, they scored the next five goals, including four in the last three minutes of the half, to take control of the game. Annie Eddy had five goals and an assist and Sophie Kurtz had 10 saves to lead No. 2 Cheshire to a 10-7 win over No. 3 Branford.
The Rams, 15-2, advance to the SCC championship against No. 1 Hand on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven . Hand defeated No. 4 Guilford 17-7 in the other semifinal game.
“Early on we were playing unsure of ourselves, just going back and forth,” Warburton said. “After I called a time out the girls responded at the end of the first half. The key for us was scoring those goals in the last three minutes. That was the turning point for us.
“Sophie has really stepped up for us in goal. If it wasn’t for her we wouldn’t be where are now. Annie Eddy is a special player and a special kid. She has a high lacrosse IQ and she’s been a leader for us. Playing Hand will be tough and we will need to play a lot more aggressive against them if we want to win on Thursday.”
Eddy completed the five-goal run with her fifth goal of the game 1 minute, 21 seconds into the second half for an 8-4 Cheshire lead.
“We started a little slow today but it feels great to contribute,” Eddy said. “I have chances to score a lot because I always get set up from my teammates to make it happen and they got me going today. It’s great to get back to the final because we want a second chance against Hand. They beat us in the regular season because we didn’t go out as strong as we needed to. This time we have to go full force.”
The Hornets (14-3) responded with a three-goal run of their own to make it a one-goal game. Sabrina Torcellini scored for Branford to cut the Rams score to 8-7 with 15:36 left in the game.
But Kurtz came up with three saves the rest of the way and goals by Sophie Cremo (10:27 to go) and Mia Pulisciano (9:46 to go) sealed the win for the Rams.
Sophie Spencer led the Hornets with five goals and an assist and Daly Hynes had six saves.
CHESHIRE 10, BRANFORD 7
BRANFORD 4 3—7
CHESHIRE 7 3—10
Scoring: B-Sophie Spencer 5 goals, 1 assist, Brianna Shaw 1 goal, Sabrina Torcellini 1 goal, Autumn McHenry 1 assist; C-Annie Eddy 5 goals, 1 assist, Taylor Warburton 1 goal, Raegan Bailey 1 goal, Mia Pulisicano 2 goals, Sophie Cremo 1 goal, 1 assist, Mikayla Crowley 1 assist. Saves: B-Daly Hynes 6; C-Sophie Kurtz 10,