Eagles hoped to catch rival in trap game

Chris Hamilton knew his Trumbull High girls lacrosse team may be overmatched against Greenwich, a perennial FCIAC and state powerhouse, most teams are.

However, with the talented Cardinals coming off a loss against rival Wilton, and with a tough matchup against Cold Spring Harbor of Long Island coming up, the Eagles head coach allowed himself to believe they might be able to catch Greenwich in a classic trap situation.

“I saw that they had lost to Wilton so I came to the conclusion that either we were going to have a window of opportunity or they were going to come up here a little (ticked) off looking for a big W,” Hamilton said. “Either we’re going to get in someone’s way, or we’re going to get run over.”

It ended up being a little of both.

The Eagles had Hamilton thinking upset early on, locking the Cardinals up in a 1-1 tie over the first 15 minutes behind the play of senior goalie Jennifer Stowe.

But Greenwich turned things around in an instant, responding to a smart timeout by head coach Caitlin Keane by rattling off eight unanswered goals to take a 9-1 lead.

Greenwich used that momentum to pull away for a 16-4 victory on a chilly evening on April 25, at McDougall Field.

But that couldn’t keep Hamilton or the Eagles from smiling after the final whistle.

Trumbull, now 2-3-1 overall and 2-3-1 in the FCIAC, jumped out to a 1-0 lead after junior Emily Uus forced a turnover and scored a free position goal at 4:05 of the first half.

The Eagles then spent the next seven minutes putting a huge scare in the Cardinals.

Trumbull kept Greenwich’s shots and possession time to a minimum behind strong defense from players like speedy senior Dana Fryer.

The Eagles stayed patient on offense, using a couple of long possessions to chew big chucks of time off the clock.

They also had Stowe playing her very best.

Stowe made five saves in the first half alone, including a couple of stops on free position shots, and finished with nine stops before leaving late in the second half.

The Eagles were doing it all despite missing three of their top players, including two defenders, who were away at an academic camp in Washington, D.C.

“I loved what I saw in the first 15 minutes,” said Hamilton, in his first year as head coach after serving as the freshman coach for Trumbull’s boys lacrosse team. “I thought that was outstanding. The girls played great. It was unbelievable.

“I knew we were going to be overmatched, and I told them to just have fun. I told them to just relax and go play their game and see what happens, and that’s exactly what they did. It was awesome.”

Trumbull appeared as if it had taken a 2-1 lead when freshman Sophia Hopwood picked off a clearing attempt on the right side and beat Greenwich goalie Kylie Ginsberg with 9:42 left before halftime, but the goal was disallowed for face-guarding.

Sensing her team needed a wakeup call, Keane called timeout and read the Cardinals the riot act.

“I basically told them to pick it up,” she said. “I literally asked, ‘What are you doing?’ We have to always play consistently at the same level. We talked about that in our Wilton game, consistently playing at our level. And we started off not at our level. And we rose up to our potential right away. I told them to go out and score as many goals as you can over the next few minutes, and they did that.”

Greenwich scored two goals in 12 seconds after the timeout to take a 3-1 lead and didn’t stop until it had an 11-3 halftime lead.

Senior Carolyn Paletta was a major factor in the turnaround.

She scored four goals and assisted on three others. She won a string of faceoffs and helped the Cardinals finish with a 13-8 edge in draw controls and was the catalyst of an offense that outshot Trumbull 28-15.

“Their midfielder was pretty impressive,” Hamilton said. “She was tearing it up. She was a tough one to cover.”

Maddie Graves and Anne Dunster collected three goals and one assist each for Greenwich (4-2 overall, 4-1 FCIAC) while freshman Grace Paletta added two goals.

Trumbull had its bright spots. Senior Melissa Lindine scored three goals and Hopwood added two assists, including one brilliant pass up the seam to Lindine for a goal with 42 seconds left in the first half after winning a faceoff against Paletta.

Trumbull hasn’t beaten Greenwich during Keane’s seven years as head coach of the Cardinals, but they are getting closer.

“Their program has definitely gotten stronger,” Keane said. “Their town program has also built up as well, so overall I think they’ve definitely gotten stronger over the years.”

The next step is taking that great 15-minute start and turning it into a full game.

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” Hamilton said. “That’s exactly what I’m trying to do. It’s only a matter of time before we get there.”