Boys soccer: Trumbull downs Norwalk in PKs

Not a lot separates the boys soccer teams of Trumbull High and Norwalk High this season.

On Friday night in the quarterfinals of the FCIAC tournament, the margin was narrow when the two sides met again in a physical match— two penalties to be precise.

After the teams battled to a 1-1 stalemate 11 days ago, this time 100 more minutes of soccer failed to produce a goal, or a winner, at Trumbull’s new turf field, before the Eagles prevailed 7-5 over the Bears in penalty kicks.

“We worked very hard,” Trumbull head coach Sebastian Gangemi said. “They’re a tough team to deal with. We always have problems with them.”

With the 0-0 (7-5 PK) victory, the second-seeded Eagles (11-2-4) advanced to the FCIAC semifinals on Monday at Fairfield Ludlowe’s Taft Field. Their opponent will be third-seeded Staples High of Westport, which earned a 1-0 win over Greenwich in their quarterfinal.

Tucker David netted the decisive penalty for Trumbull. Prior to that, Eagle keeper Chris Prizio made his second save in the ninth round of PKs. Norwalk missed the target twice in the nine rounds and squandered a chance to eliminate the Eagles in the first set of kicks.

Trumbull, which had two penalties saved by Bear keeper Gianluca Trofa, did not miss the target at all in PKs.

“We got lucky, they got unlucky,” Gangemi said. “It’s all about luck in the penalty kicks. I can’t praise them enough. They’re a really good team. They stood us up.”

Following Norwalk’s fifth-round miss, Trumbull, kicking second, leveled at 3-3 on Nico Milovanov’s attempt. The teams traded makes in the next two rounds, before the Bears missed the net again. Orlando Fernandes put Trumbull up 6-5 with a powerful drive and Prizio’s stop set up David’s heroics.

After a scoreless regulation in which neither team managed to create sustained offense, the Eagles nearly won it. A whiffed clearance attempt by Norwalk gave Trumbull a wide-open run on goal in the closing moments of the first 10-minute session of extra time.

Andrew Restrepo corralled it but was slowed down by a retreating Bear defender, causing him to arrow his shot wide of the post.

The Eagles best chance at a goal in regulation came with 29:20 left in the second half, when Jason Weinstein hammered a bouncing ball wide right of Trofa.

“They have nothing to be ashamed of,” Gangemi said of Norwalk. “We just got lucky on the penalties."