Last year, the Cheshire boys soccer team had a limousine bus to drive to the Class LL championship game in Hartford.
But the Rams lost to Farmington and despite the fancy transportation, it was a long, ride home.
Sunday, there was no limo. The Rams came to Trinity Health Stadium in a school bus. And they won their first title since 1988, 3-1 over second-seeded Xavier in the Class L championship.
“Are you kidding me?” Cheshire coach Artur Branco said. “It’s going to be a party on the way home. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
William Stearns scored the first goal with 27:27 left in the first half for the top-seeded Rams (16-3-1) and Cheshire went up 2-0 on Samir Dishnica’s goal. Xavier got on the board with a goal by Mario Milardo with six minutes left in the first half and Cheshire led 2-1 at halftime.
Dishnica, who was the team’s leading scorer this year with 28 goals and was named the game’s MVP, had a free kick five minutes into the second half that Kevi Sulollari tipped in for a 3-1 lead.
“We lost in the final last year and we worked hard to get here,” Dishnica said. “Now we made it happen so it’s really special.”
It was cold, in the high 20s and a little windy, and the artificial turf was frozen and slippery. Time and again, players fell on the field.
“It was really slippery,” Dishnica said. “It was hard, the turf. People were slipping all over the place, but we played through it. We still got the win, it felt great.”
The two SCC teams did not play each other in the regular season or the SCC tournament, which Cheshire won. They did play each other last year in the Class LL semifinal, which Cheshire won on penalty kicks.
Branco has coached at Cheshire for 29 years. Before he became the coach, Cheshire beat Manchester 2-1 in 1988 to win the Class LL title. It’s been a long drought since. Last year, the Rams lost to Farmington, 3-2.
“It’s very special. Every time you win a title, it’s special because you don’t get here all the time,” Branco said. “We were here last year, we didn’t get it. We’re back here again, which is very uncommon to happen. I’m just very happy. I’m happy for everybody. This is for Cheshire.”
Lori Riley can be reached at [email protected]