Boys soccer: Danbury upends Trumbull, 4-2, in Class LL

No. 11 Danbury High rode the outstanding play of junior keeper David Mollenthiel to a 4-2 victory over No. 3 Trumbull High in a Class LL boys soccer quarterfinal match at McDougall Stadium in Trumbull on Saturday.

The Hatters (13-2-4) will play No. 7 Shelton (15-3-1) in the semifinals.

The Gaels knocked off No. 2 Greenwich High, 3-2, in their quarterfinal.

“That’s the difference — point blank,” Danbury coach Anthony Howard said of Mollenthiel. “You get a goalkeeper that pulls off two or three saves like that. That score could have easily have been 5-4. Without shadow of the doubt, man of the match.”

Trumbull coach Sebe Gangemi said, “The keeper made a couple of nice saves, especially in the first half with his feet. I told him he was the MVP of the game in my opinion. We always look at the guys who make the goals; we have to look at the guy’s that stop the goals from going in.”

Mollenthiel’s two saves in the final two minutes of the first half allowed the Hatters to take a 2-1 lead into the break.

The Eagles, who had defeated the Hatters twice before this season, was down 2-0 on the scoreboard when Thang Dao halved the margin with 9:31 remaining in the first half.

Then two great moves by Trumbull’s Jason Weinstein created space for the sophomore to put a point-blank shot on net, which was smothered by Mollenthiel as the clock struck 2:00.

The Eagles’ Connor Jorge started the next challenge with a pass to the right side to Weinstein, who returned the favor to a wide-open Jorge, but Mollenthiel made a kick save with 40 seconds left before intermission.

Danbury got off to a fine start in the game, with Ricardo Rodriguez turning the corner and ripping a shot past Trumbull keeper Jonathan Campbell in the 29th minute.

Kevin Spennato made it 2-0 in the 20th minute, after taking a pass from Jason Daniel Cordova and burying his opportunity.

Needing to slow down its transition-favored attack to create more chances, Trumbull came out fast in the second half.

In the first five minutes, the Eagles took multiple shots at Mollenthiel only to come away empty.

Howard said, “I thought we started off outstanding then we kind of let them get in the flow of the game. For a long time it was tight. We said at halftime the next goal will be key. We sucked up a lot of pressure early on in the second half.

“I really actually thought we weathered the storm and they obviously pushed, pushed and pushed opened up and we got a couple at the end. I thought we played well (overall) and the first twenty minutes we were outstanding.

“For the first time in three games we kind of opened them up a little bit and not many people have done that this year, so credit to the boys.”

Trumbull’s best opportunity to tie the match came in the 61st minute.

Off a corner, Daniel Folchick headed the ball under the crossbar that Mollenthiel, tipped high with his right hand.

Off the next corner, Panayiotis Xenakis blasted a shot that clanged off the far post.

Gangemi said, “We’re a good unit, we worked really hard for this. It happens, it happens. They took advantage of us in the first twenty minutes. Then we came back in the second half, we came back, I thought we had a goal there when we hit the post.”

Trumbull had better of the play the next seven minutes, with Dao and John Recker controlling the midfield. Three free kicks resulted in one save and two blocked attempts.

Danbury struck back off a free kick of its own. Rodriguez was in pursuit of the pass in the penalty area when Campbell attempt at a tackle caught leg before ball.

Miguel Frazao found just enough room on the right side to put home the ensuing penalty kick with 10:57 remaining.

The Hatters’ Spennato got behind a pushed up defense to make it 4-1 with 3:53 remaining.

Weinstein scored off an assist from Folchick with 12.3 ticks on the clock.

“Trumbull has had a fantastic year,” Howard said. “I think we caught them maybe on a little bit of a down day, which we needed to do. I honestly believe that they are the best team we faced this year. And it’s a shame it ends this way for them, but obviously I’m happy for us.”

Gangemi said, “It’s devastating to us. It’s hard to swallow right now. We set out to have a great season and we accomplished it. It’s a great unit. They all play for each other, At the end of last season, they went to the weight room, worked out together.

"These players were dedicated to the sport, dedicated to Trumbull High. Their hearts are on their sleeves right now, we tried to do our best.”