The Cheshire girls cross country team started the season in fine fashion by winning the Varsity 2 race at the 33rd Haddad Windham Invitational Saturday at Windham High School.
The Rams ran the fastest overall team time of the day in any of the three divisions, taking their race with a 3-5-9 finish and 56 points. Avon (69) was second and Staples-
Kathleen Kalbian led the way with a third-place finish in 19 minutes, 41 seconds, Amanda Chang was fifth (20:05) and Nicole Adam ninth (20:21).
Cheshire junior running back Sam Pascale ran for 301 yards on 58 carries and two touchdowns for the entire season in 2010. Friday night, the junior powered for 102 yards on 19 carries and scored twice in the Rams' 46-18 season opening victory over Hamden at East Haven High School.
Pascale led a potent and balanced Cheshire offense that gained 404 yards total offense, 174 on the ground and 230 in the air.
Quarterback Michael Ecke directed Cheshire's spread offense that has taken it up a notch on speed and efficiency of execution. The team rattled off plays at a lightning pace in the first half, barely allowing Hamden's defense to get set and scoring five times before the end of the half. The Rams held a 29-0 lead in the third quarter before Hamden got on the board.
Hillhouse-New Haven, which lost 20-19 to North Haven in Week 1, is next for Cheshire on Friday at Bowen Field in New Haven at 3:30 p.m.
The Rams defeated the Academics 29-6 last season, but Hillhouse went on to finish 10-3 and win the Class M state championship over New London, while Cheshire finished a disappointing 5-5.
"They like to run the ball. They're an option team," head coach Mark Ecke said. "They'll get in double slot and run some inside veers and midline. They're a very well-coached team and they're going to go after it.
"Going back and looking at (last year's) file, our defensive line played very well in that game. We're going to need that again to have success. (Hillhouse) has got some dudes."
Nikki Iadarola scored once and had an assist in the Rams' 2-0 victory at Guilford in the opener Tuesday. Kathleen Castrilli scored once and Alexandra Pelletier had an assist for Cheshire.
The Rams improved to 2-0 with a 4-2 victory over Mercy-Middletown Friday. Cheshire received goals from Iadarola, Jenna Hart, Pelletier and Castrilli. Goalie Natalie Reynolds made seven saves.
Cheshire fell to Fairfield Prep 1-0 in its opener Tuesday. Goalie Ian Clark made seven saves.
The Rams (1-1) bounced back with a 3-2 victory over Xavier-Middletown Friday. Cheshire scored three times in the last five minutes as Mike Ranando scored twice and Nick Berardi provided the game-winner with an assist from Matt Mueller. Clark and Nick Velleca combined for four saves in goal.
Cheshire defeated Foran-Milford 96-80 at home to extend its national dual-meet record to 277 Tuesday. Lindsay Smalec won the 200-yard freestyle in 2 minutes, 9.05 seconds, Maggie Ptaszynski the 200 individual medley (2:23.94) and Haley Payne the 50 free (26.53). Other winners included: Erin Mostroller in diving (165 points), Tiffany Wang, 100 free (59.31), Lexi Koukos, 100 butterfly (1:08.3) and Sara Barlock, 500 free (5:34.93). The 200 medley relay of Brooke Phillips, Becca Alvarez-Petit, Ptaszynski and Jenna Cannata won in 2:04.57.
Anna Frenzilli scored the game-winning goal with 2:44 left in a 2-1 victory over Daniel Hand in Madison Tuesday in the opener. Lauren Anderson also scored.
The Rams (1-1) fell to Branford 1-0 on Saturday despite outshooting the Hornets 17-8. Keeper Maria Blois made seven saves. Cheshire plays its home opener Tuesday vs. Guilford at 3:45 p.m.
Cheshire swept West Haven by game scores of 25-19, 25-9, 25-21 Tuesday in West Haven. Amanda Palladino had 10 kills, Abby Dorman nine and Kelly Gunneson eight kills and four blocks. Gina Buzzelli made 22 assists.
The Rams (2-0) won their home opener with another sweep, this one over East Haven 25-18, 25-9, 25-15 Friday. Palladino had eight kills and four blocks, Gunneson eight kills and Dorman six kills with four service aces. Buzzelli made 26 assists and three aces, and Kerry Chavoy added five digs.