Boys soccer: Trumbull defeats Fairfield Warde in states
Trumbull High defeated Fairfield Warde, 4-0, in a Class LL second-round match at McDougall Stadium on Thursday night.
Chris Lancia scored in the 34th minute to give the third-seeded Eagles (15-0-5) a 1-0 lead over the 14th-seeded Mustangs (11-6-2) at the break.
Jason Weinstein made it 2-0 at 12:59 of the second half, and Thang Dao scored just over two minutes later.
Dao completed the scoring with four minutes remaining.
The FCIAC rivals played to a 3-3 draw in the regular season. What changed?
“We were ready,” Trumbull coach Sebe Gangemi said. “ We went into the first game relaxed. I thought they took it to us. I thought we were better in that game, but they took it to us. We are battle ready now. Now to beat us you have to beat us.
“We came at them in the first half, we had them on the ropes for the first 20 minutes. They got a couple of beautiful shots, one that hit the crossbar and we survived that. Then the momentum kind of came in our direction.”
Trumbull’s stick-to-it-tive-ness after Daniel Folchick’s free kick opportunity paid dividends and gave it the lead.
Lancia was first to stop a clearing attempt and keep the ball in play. Then it was Panayiotis Xanakis’s turn to deny Warde a break in pressure
Finally, Matthew Restrepo collected a free ball and passed to Lancia in the right corner. Lancia created space toward the middle, where he unleashed a rocket of a shot that Matt Skelton had no chance at stopping.
Warde’s Jonathan Schuster looked to pull his team even, but his free kick ricocheted off the crossbar. Joey Ciccarelli kept the action going, but Eagle keeper Jonathan Campbell beat his pass to the charging Eltan Brown by the near post with 6:34 remaining in the first half.
An outstanding run by Lancia freed Weinstein in the middle to place his cross into an open side of the net.
Restrepo’s perfectly-placed corner kick found Dao for a header to make it 3-0.
Matheus Santiago had the assist on Dao’s second goal, as the junior took a pass from Warren and fed Dao in open space in front of the Warde net.
The play of Trumbull’s midfield, led by Connor Jorge, Restrepo, Xenakis, Lancia, Chris Conaway, Nick Moussavian and John Recker, were key to the victory.
“We played against Norwalk a couple of days ago, and they took the midfield from us,” Gangemi said of the Eagles 5-4 win on PKs over the Bears in first-round action.
“So we really concentrated to practice on taking the midfield back from teams. Control the midfield and use the wings on the outside. Instead of trying to funnel everything to the middle, go to the outside a lot and that’s what we did.”
Trumbull was able to challenge Warde behind Dao, Lancia, Weinstein, Jorge and Restrepo, who played his best game of the season as both facilitator and defensive standout.
“As you can see, Chris Lancia was having a good day on that side,” Gangemi said of his senior wing. “He’s explosive, that’s what we have. We have three guys up front that play with each other well. They are very explosive, you can’t take all three out of the game. You want to double up on one, we’ll go to another guy.”
Warde, with Jason Deck, Anthony Zarlenga and Brown looking to break free, kept Trumbull’s backline of Noah Warren, Harrison Crosley, Miguel Frazao and Folchick on their toes.
“Defense is solid, we didn’t give up much,” Gangemi said of his team’s play backing up Campbell in the cage.
Next up for Trumbull is a home date with No. 11 Danbury High (12-2-4) on Saturday at 2 p.m.
“I’d rather they don’t think about it,” Gangemi said of his players being three wins away from an unbeaten season. “We’re going to play the same team (Danbury) three times. We beat them twice (4-1, 3-2) already, beating them three times is a tall order to do.
"Danbury will be ready for us. FCIAC is a battle zone. We try to do the best we can with what we got.”