Boys soccer: Trumbull advances on penalty kicks

It is a position that Trumbull High boys soccer goalkeeper Chris Prizio looks forward to finding himself in, and a place where Eagles head coach Sebastian Gangemi feels comfortable — a match decided by penalty kicks.

Prizio stopped three consecutive PK attempts by third-seeded Staples of Westport, and Trumbull High advanced to the FCIAC finals for the third season in a row with a 0-0 (3-1 PK) decision in the semifinals played at Taft Field in Fairfield on Monday night.

“You can’t write (games) like this down,” said Prizio after leading the second-seeded Eagles (12-2-4) into Thursday’s 7 p.m. title match at Norwalk opposite top-seeded Danbury High (12-1-5), a 1-0 late-game winner over host Fairfield Ludlowe.

“Penalties are so fun. I live for this. I said it last time (a PK win over Norwalk), I’ll say it this time. I guess, I get in a zone. I knew the first three guys (from Beachside Soccer Club), so I knew their spots. The fourth was a little lucky.”

Gangemi likes to roll the dice with his senior keeper.

"Chris stopped three straight penalties and we haven’t had that happen since Dan Hajducky did it for us in the states (versus Southington in 2006),” Gangemi said.“It was an even game the whole game. We had our chances. They had their chances. When it came down to the clutch, Chris pulled it off. That’s all there is.”

Prizio made two needed stops when Trumbull advanced to the semis with a 0-0 (7-5 PK) victory over Norwalk in last Friday’s quarterfinal.

This time, Trumbull’s Jason Weinstein and Staples’ Austin Sholes each made shots to start PK’s.

Wrecker keeper Ry Cohen then stopped John Michael Recker, before Prizio went to his right to knock aside Matthew Tanzer’s attempt to keep things level.

Dominic Zaleski gave Trumbull the 2-1 lead. He slipped on his follow through, and this threw off the timing and his shot sailed over Cohen and into the net.

Staples’ Brendan Lynch saw Prizio punch his shot out headed toward the lower part of the right side.

The Eagles’ Justin Horvath then ripped a shot past Cohen, who guessed right but couldn’t keep the ball out of the netting.

Nick DiMasi had Staples’ last shot, but Prizio dove to his right to push it wide.

When asked how he felt helping his team to the FCIAC final, Prizio said: “Everything I came out to do, I’m glad we did it. I think we dealt (tonight) with pressure pretty well. The defense was great. I love all those guys.”

Bryant Recker, John Michael Recker and Carrigan Cullinan led the back 30 defensively. Claudinei Moreira Jr. and Matheus Martins dropped back as the play dictated.

Nico Milovanov and Tiago Frazao dished off the ball to lead the attack, with Andrew Restrepo, Matt Bagley, Orlando Fernandes and Tucker David on the wings. Howard Qian steadied the midfield as a marker.

The Eagles tried to free striker Jason Weinstein, but the Wreckers made things difficult.

Each team had five shots in the first half, with Prizio making three easy saves and Cohen zero. Trumbull had three corners to a pair by Staples.

The Eagles’ best chance came 12 minutes into the first half when Weinstein looked to control a corner kick from Milovanov. Perched alongside Cohen, he tried to bring the ball in, but Sholes was able to block and and then clear it.

The Wreckers looked to take the lead in the 23rd minute. Off a short corner, Vaughan Piccirillo-Sealey drilled a shot that Prizio went up for and caught on the rise.

The Wreckers had the better of play in the second half, although typical of soccer the Eagles had more shots (5-2). Staples had two corners. Prizio didn’t need to make a save, but that didn’t mean the Wreckers were playing back.

DiMasi drew a foul and a free kick from right of the 18-foot box. Sholes got the pass, but his blast carried over the frame at the 23:48 mark. DiMasi saw his shot off a crossing pass from Gabriel-James Morgia miss high at 17:38.

Cohen had two saves in the second half, one on Horvath’s shot with 3:29 remaining in regulation.