St. Joseph girls lacrosse rallies past Barlow in Class M semis; Epke propels Guilford over Masuk

CHESHIRE — A pair of evenly matched teams faced off in the CIAC Class M girls lacrosse semifinal between No. 11 Barlow and No. 15 St. Joseph at Cheshire High on Tuesday.

But one late scoring run by St. Joseph] proved to be the difference.

With the Falcons leading by two goals, St. Joseph scored the game’s last three goals including the game-winner by Hanna Siljamaki with 4:28 to go in the second half as St. Joseph went on to beat Barlow 8-7.

“This was an exciting game, Barlow is a good defensive team,” Siljamaki said. “I started the game off slow, took five shots on goal and none went in. The last shot I did what my coach told me to do, I faked and then took a shot.

“On that game-winning goal I faked high and shot a low bounce shot that went in. It felt great when it went in, I was so excited.”

St. Joseph advances to the Class M final at Sacred Heart University on Saturday at noon. The Cadets will play No. 1 Guilford. The Grizzlies beat Masuk 16-9 in the other semifinal.

“Barlow is a phenomenal defensive team,” St. Joseph coach Leeland Gray said. “The key for us, the turning point in the game, was keeping our composure in the second half. Hanna had one of her worst games today and that was because of Barlow’s defense. She came through with a key goal when we needed it like she has done all season.”

The teams traded goals most of the game.

Olivia Rodrigues gave Barlow a 1-0 lead with 19:22 to go in the first half. Autumn Murphy responded for St. Joseph to tie it at 1-1. Allison Wick scored with 15:56 to go in the first half to give Barlow a 2-1 lead. Then Casey Maygothling answered for St. Joseph with 6:18 to go in the first half to tie the game at 2-2.

The teams traded goals again with Meghan Hoynes giving St. Joseph a 3-2 lead and Savannah Herrman tying it at 3-3 for Barlow with 2:34 to go.

The scoring continued the last minute of the half with the teams trading goals again.

Maddigan Leifer gave St. Joseph a 4-3 lead with 49 seconds left in the first half. Ashley Starrett responded for Barlow and tied the game at 4-4 with 1 second left.

The second half had three-goal runs by each team. The Falcons had a three-goal run capped by a Herrman goal for a 7-5 lead.

St. Joseph’s three-goal run came at an opportune time. Maddigan Leifer cut the Barlow lead to 7-6 and Maygothling tied the game at 7-7 with 10:55 to go. Enter Siljamaki and her game-winning shot.

“St. Joseph is a great team, they’re tough,” Barlow coach Steve Coppock said. “You’ve got to give them credit. We turned the ball over too many times and made mistakes.”

Guilford 16, Masuk 9

Defending CIAC Class M champion Guilford has been one of the most dominating postseason teams in the spring the last two seasons following one basic philosophy — focus only on the game at hand and set the tone of the game early.

“No game is easy, especially with a target on your back as the defending champion,” Guilford’s Maddie Epke said. “That is why we focus on getting big, fast starts in our games. It’s important for us to win that first draw, take that first shot of the game and score that first goal of the game. It’s all about setting the tone and taking control.”

Epke set the tone early in the CIAC Class M semifinal on Tuesday at Cheshire High.

Epke took the game’s first shot, scored the game’s first goal and went on to score five goals to lead No. 1 Guilford to a 16-9 win over No. 5 Masuk. Taylor Farace added four goals.

“We do our best just thinking about one game at a time,” Guilford coach Wendy Epke said. “We use our strong shooters and our strength on the draws to take control of the game early. Once we do that, once we start building an early lead, our kids start to settle down and get in a good rhythm the rest of the game.

“That’s what happened tonight, we set the tone early.”

Epke scored with 8:30 left in the first half to give the Grizzlies a 6-1 lead and they cruised the rest of the way.

GUILFORD 16, MASUK 9

(at Cheshire)

MASUK 3 6 — 9

GUILFORD<10 6 — 16

Scoring: Masuk — Julianna Pagano 4, Samantha Henry 2, Caroline Raymond, Lauren Henry. Guilford — Maddie Epke 5, Taylor Farace 4, Peyton Root 2, MJ Santa Barbara 3, Ella Clarke, Kat Baseggio . Saves: Masuk — 8; Guilford — 8.

ST. JOSEPH 8, BARLOW 7

(at Cheshire)

ST. JOSEPH 4 4 — 8

BARLOW 4 3 — 7

Scoring: Barlow — Allison Wick 2, Savannah Herrman 2, Olivia Rodrigues, Ashley Starrett, Elyssa Kalamara. St. Joseph — Maddigan Leifer 3, Casey Maygothling 2, Autumn Murray, Meghan Hoynes, Hanna Siljamaki. Saves: Barlow — Meagan Florkowski 8; St. Joseph — Emily Robinson 3.