Eagles believe in filling shoes early
Daniel Uhrlass isn’t the type of person to wait for a problem to arise before he starts thinking about a solution. The head coach of the Trumbull High girls soccer team is much more progressive than that.
Well before the paint had time to dry on the loss against Glastonbury in last year’s Class LL semifinals, well before talented players like Ana Tantum, Marissa Piccolo and Gabby Reggiano walked off the field for the last time, Uhrlass had already finished his prep work for the 2013 season.
Keeping the Eagles among the FCIAC and state elite, Uhrlass believes, is all about filling big shoes before they’re empty.
“It’s always good to leave some of the younger players in there during pressure situations to develop some maturity,” said Uhrlass, who also guided the Eagles to the Class LL finals in 2011.
“If you’re up a couple goals against a tough opponent and maybe it’s a time when you can put some young players into pressure situations, it’s always a good idea to do that.”
That type of preventative preparation is what should allow the Eagles to pick up right where they left off last season, when they went 15-2-3 overall, earned the No. 1 seed for the FCIAC playoffs and won the West Division title before going all the way to the Class LL state tournament semifinals.
Trumbull certainly has a few holes to fill. Reggiano, a first-team All-FCIAC pick, is no longer patrolling the defense.
Also gone to graduation is goalkeeper Emily Doris midfielder Katie Sullivan. Gone are Tantum and her team-leading 20 goals and Piccolo with her creativity and play-making ability.
However, Trumbull always has the ability to replace talent with equal talent, and this year should be no different.
Trumbull, led by junior midfielder Kendall Szulimowski, was already 2-0 heading into Tuesday’s FCIAC showdown against Jess Laszlo and the Westhill Vikings.
The Eagles posted a 4-2 victory over Fairfield Ludlowe in the season opener, before defeating Stamford 6-0 on Friday in a game that could have been far worse had they not called off the dogs leading 5-0 at halftime.
Trumbull outshot Stamford 22-2, including a 14-1 edge in the first half with many of the starters still on the field.
“I’m always hungry to win,” Uhrlass said. “But I always want to play good soccer.”
Can he do that with this team?
“Always,” he said. “Even if they couldn’t, I would try to teach them. I believe in the whole team being a part of the attack.”
Szulimowski, a second-team All-FCIAC pick as a sophomore, seems to have taken the baton from Tantum, scoring four goals over the first two games, including a nifty breakaway tally against Stamford that she created herself with a steal in the offensive zone.
Trumbull also displayed great speed up front behind senior captain Lauren Hyde, senior Katie Foley on the right wing and senior Luana Sardinha on the left.
Hyde scored the second goal against Stamford after assisting on the first.
Uhrlass is also excited about the play of forward Jillian Presser, the only freshman on the varsity team who scored her career first goal to make it 4-0 with 12 minutes left in the first half before adding an assist on a second-half tally by junior Alex Galletti.
Julian Teixeira scored the other Trumbull goal against Stamford off an assist by Aileen Maloney.
Midfield looks to be the strength of the team behind Szulimowski, senior captain Nicole Schwartz and senior Alyka Lara.
Kerrigan Loughman and Lily Clarke, the first two players off the bench against Stamford, had one assist each.
The defense is a little raw with two sophomores – Lauren Coty and Kyriaki Marinos — among the starting four. Senior Julia Lisi starts at center back with junior Caroline Cosey at left back.
Senior Maggie Parisi allowed two goals on six shots in her first game against Ludlowe as the starting goalkeeper, then faced only two shots in the shutout against Stamford (0-2).
While Uhrlass would like to see his team’s communication improve, he can boast a lineup than can run 15 players deep, which goes back to his philosophy of getting kids experience before they need it.
“If they can play, we’ll use them,” he said. “We’re a deep team.”
Sept. 20 Darien, 4
Sept. 24 at Ridgefield, 6
Sept. 26 Wilton, 7
Sept. 30 St. Joseph, 7
Oct. 2 at T Catholic, 4
Oct. 5 at Danbury, 5
Oct. 8 Staples, 4
Oct. 10 at New Canaan, 7
Oct. 14 at McMahon, 12
Oct. 16 at Warde, 4
Oct. 18 Norwalk, 4
Oct. 23, Greenwich, 7
Oct. 24 at Central, 4