Cheshire pressed hard into its offensive end all afternoon against North Haven. The Rams field hockey team was literally on the attack for close to 90 percent of the game and just about all of the second half.
Finally about midway through the second half the Rams broke through on a goal by sophomore Kathleen Lima. It would be the only goal in Cheshire's Southern Connecticut Conference victory Tuesday at Cheshire High.
What Cheshire didn't expect from an opponent that had only won once in nine games coming in was the play of its goaltender Kaleigh Hemstock, who made 21 saves as the Rams took 22 on goal and a total of 52.
"Every game we don't underestimate any team," Cheshire head coach Eileen Gallagher said. "We knew North Haven kept (Daniel) Hand to a low-scoring game 1-0, so we were prepared for good field play. What we didn't anticipate was how talented their goalie was.
"It was really a struggle. We kept the ball in our offensive circle probably 80, 90 percent of the game. But we really couldn't get it around the goalie, which is something we need to focus on because we have Hand on Thursday."
Cheshire controlled the ball most of the first half but took it up even higher in the second off numerous penalty corners. The opportunities came continually as the Indians (1-7-1-1) couldn't clear the ball to its offensive end.
And once the Rams started firing on goal, they had multiple rebounds to try and score, usually from its leading scorers Emma Farrel and Lauren Anderson. But Hemstock and her defenders kept it out of goal by crowding the goalmouth and the goalie's effective kick saves. Hemstock deflected some of the credit as well.
"My defense was with me there and my coach (Cori Krajewski). We practiced hard yesterday and I just left it all out there, leaving it on the field," Hemstock said. "I have Nichole Chicarella back there (with me) and Molly Falkowski."
It seemed like only a matter of time before Cheshire (10-1) would finally find the net. Following a penalty corner delivered by Farrel, Alyssa Hague took control from about 12 yards directly on goal. She launched a grounder that seemed to just keep rolling and rolling and Lima deflected it in for the score with 12 minutes, 28 seconds left in the game.
"Alyssa hit it from the top and I just redirected it there," Lima said. "It was like going at a snail's pace but it went in."
Cheshire has a big stretch of five remaining regular season games, which includes games at home against Branford and away at Greenwich. The Rams are 6-0 and in third place in the SCC. Hand is in first place at 7-0, Guilford second (6-1-0-1) and Branford is fourth (5-1-1).
"We have a game every other day for the next nine days," Gallagher said. "We have a lot of games coming up, so we have to prepare our bodies and take care of ourselves," Gallagher said.