Mongillo's return to Trumbull girls lacrosse slowed by pandemic

Lauren Buck, Callan Vaughn and Kiki Grant are senior team captains.

Lauren Buck, Callan Vaughn and Kiki Grant are senior team captains.

Trumbull Athletics / Contributed photo

Marissa Mongillo’s homecoming to Trumbull girls’ lacrosse after coaching women’s lacrosse at two colleges was twice put on pause.

A 2011 Trumbull alum and a 2015 graduate Elmira College (N.Y.) graduate, Mongillo’s first season in charge of the program never came to pass when the 2020 spring season was shutdown by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virus took on a more personal tone this year when a player was diagnosed positive a day before tryouts were set to begin. A two-week moratorium was put in place.

Welcome back.

“Rather than risk reinfection with contact tracing and starting and restarting, Trumbull decided to shutdown things down for two weeks. As a coaching staff and administration, we thought it was the safer way to go,” said Mongillo who first officially met with her team on April 9, one day before the season was set to begin.

After virtual practices during the stay, Mongillo and assistant coach Kelly Metzger held a two-hour practice slash/tryout. They contacted each girl that night and met with 24 varsity players the next day on April 10, the official starting date for the season. Games with Norwalk and Cheshire were pushed back on the schedule.

Five days later Trumbull lost its opener at Guilford 17-5.

“Our first game was overwhelming for our girls I’m sure,” Mongillo said. “The weather was awful with rain coming at us from all angles. I told the girls that because it was only day-five together that I would overlook that game.”

Not lost on Mongillo was Kiki Grant scoring three goals, including the 100th of her career.

On day seven, the clouds parted.

“The two games were drastically different,” Mongillo said of Trumbull’s 11-10 loss in overtime to St. Joseph. “We did a great job transitioning the ball and communicating. We adjusted as the game went on. The girls are so coachable, which makes our job that much easier.”

Callan Vaughn, Lauren Buck and Grant are team captains and make up a senior group of six with Anna Tutek, Paige Rochelle and Caitlyn Arnone.

Mongillo said: “Our captains and all our seniors have done a great job bridging the time lost and building team chemistry. We have three freshmen on varsity right now and they have welcomed them. We have a strong group of juniors that last played as freshmen. Everyone is grateful to be back playing.”

Mongillo rotates players taking the draw with midfielders Vaughn, Grant and Buck along with defenders junior Caroline Pagliaro and Lauren Delaney.

“We don’t have a FOGO (face off, get off). We have a strong group that are gritty players taking the draw and blocking people out to help teammates get in better position to get to the ball,” Mongillo said.

“Overall, we did a good job splitting wins at draw against a good St. Joe’s team,” she said. “Lindsay Bull, Katie Coppola and Lauryn Wright were our primary players on attack.”

Brand New Slate

“We are rebuilding our culture. I told them: ‘This is a whole new ballgame for you guys.’ Whoever you were on the field before this you have a chance to reestablish or reinvent yourself on the team,” Mongillo said.

“They are learning everything from scratch. There was like a wholesale line change with coaches, so the learning curve is going to be drastic. Basically, all the sophomores and freshmen are brand new to everything Trumbull lacrosse has to offer. Half of the program has had one playing season and the other haven’t played lacrosse at Trumbull High.”

Mongillo’s thoughts with one week in the books?

“We have a large junior class as well as those strong seniors,” Mongillo said. “They are helping bring everyone in. Lauryn Wright is a freshman and scored a goal in her first high school game at Trumbull. The bench and players on the field exploded. It didn’t matter. She could have been a four-year starter. It was fun to see.

“Having Kelly Metzger coaching with me is awesome. We played and graduated together (2011) and she was with the program pre-shutdown so some of the girls know her. As coaches we jump in sometimes to show them what we are talking about. The girls like that.”

Mongillo after being named second-team All-FCIAC in both sports at Trumbull, played defense in ice hockey and midfield in lacrosse at Elmira, which plays in the Empire 8 Division III conference.

“Some days I’d get off the ice and go to lacrosse practice. I love to stay busy,” she said. After graduation she coached college lacrosse at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina and Hartwick College in New York. “College coaching life was awesome, I absolutely loved it. Then I decided to focus more on family switched careers (special education as a paraprofessional) and moved back to Shelton. I saw the coaching job was open and I’m grateful to have the opportunity.”

Mongillo coaches the Wonderland Wizards hockey teams with her dad Mark.

“Usually in the summer we do camps and clinics at the Wonderland of Ice,” she said. “With the pandemic we reconnected family wise. This past season we coached the Bantam Double A’s, which are 14U. Then we had the Pee Wee A’s, which are 12U. We also coached a Midget team that is a half-year high school team. We like to stay busy.

“There is a learning curve with ages communicating with ages. Helps most kids in higher levels we had when they were younger and understand our coaching style. It is cool to see them grow up on and off the ice right in front of you.”

Game notes: Lindsay Bull (three), Callan Vaughn (2), Lauryn Wright (two), Kiki Grant, Katie Coppola, Sam Crosby and Alessia Lye scored goals in the 11-10 loss to St. Joseph (2-1). Coppola (two), Bull (two), Lauryn Wright (two), Lye and Vaughn had assists. Grant had four draw controls. Avery Genet made 11 saves. In the 17-5 loss to Guilford, Grant scored three goals and Vaughn two. Lisa Pulie and Jenn Marrone are junior varsity coaches. Ganna Socci and Lauren Fetzer are varsity team managers.

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354