Although a big on-paper underdog, the Trumbull High field hockey team was virtually even with host Norwalk High from start to finish its Class L state tournament first round game on Wednesday night. In the end, however, the fourth-seeded Bears came out on top, 3-2, ending the 13th-seeded Eagles’ season.
Norwalk’s Sarah Roddy broke a 2-2 tie when she capitalized on a penalty stroke after a Trumbull violation denied an opportunity. The game-winning tally came with just 7:22 left in regulation.
The Eagles had twice answered Norwalk goals, and had a pair of penalty corner opportunities in the final two minutes of regulation with chances to knot the score a third time, but the Bears fended off their FCIAC counterparts for the second time this fall. Norwalk edged Trumbull 1-0 in a regular-season battle in late October on its way to a 12-3 regular campaign.
“I couldn’t be upset with the way they played. We were one stroke away from going to overtime,” said Trumbull head coach Cindi Gallucci, adding that her Eagles were well-prepared for their familiar foes. “We expected it,” she said of the close, hard-fought contest. “We did our homework – we watched film.”
The Eagles dominated possession and had the ball on Norwalk’s half of the field for the first several minutes of the game. Julia Louw had a in-close chance, but was denied by Norwalk goaltender Samantha Troetti, who made four saves.
Norwalk struck first, off the game’s first penalty corner setup, when Kaitlin Uralowich banged home a shot off a pass from Marissa Mastrianni, 8:05 into the tilt.
Trumbull drew even off a penalty corner of its own when Sophia Hopwood dribbled around a defender and whipped home a goal with 12:47 left in the opening half. The game remained deadlocked until the second half, as Trumbull goalie Maddie SanAngelo came up with some big saves to keep the game even.
The Bears reclaimed the lead just 4:05 into the second half when Marissa Mastrianni redirected a feed from outside the circle by Frances Mirabile. SanAngelo made a save on a penalty corner midway through the second half to keep her team within a goal.
Trumbull went the other way and Louw earned a penalty corner that her team cashed in on. Mimi Leonard’s insert led to a blast of a shot by Hopwood that Troetti got a small piece of before the ball hit the back of the cage. The game, with 14:40 remaining, was even once again.
The teams combined for 13 penalty corners, with Norwalk generating just one more than Trumbull with seven. Norwalk finished the game with an 11-8 shots advantage.
“Of course you’d like to win, but I couldn’t ask anything more of the girls,” Gallucci said.
That sentiment applies to not only the season-ending defeat, but also the season on the whole.
Trumbull – which went 9-6-1 in the regular slate – got back to the FCIAC tournament for the first time in 15 years and Gallucci earned the conference’s Coach of the Year honor The team won the FCIAC’s Courage Award.
Leonard was an All-County selection. Hopwood and Keara Chapman were named to the All-FCIAC West Division team, with Amy Smith and Julie Louw honorable mention.
Gallucci’s husband passed away just before the start of the season, and the Eagles came together to support their coach off the field, then performed at a high level on it.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” said Gallucci, who will lose four seniors — starters Keara Chapman and Amy Smith, along with Sarah Pogany and Maria Chappa.