Girls soccer: Trumbull advances with 3-1 win over Warde

The third time was the charm for Trumbull High’s girls soccer team.

Coach Daniel Uhrlass’s No. 12 Eagles defeated FCIAC rival and fifth-seeded Fairfield Warde, 3-1, in the Class LL state tournament’s second round in Fairfield on Thursday evening.

With the win, the Eagles advance to the quarterfinals and a Saturday visit to another conference rival, fourth-seeded Staples of Westport set for 2 p.m. Trumbull defeated Staples 2-1 during the regular season.

“A bunch of players made some really big plays,” Uhrlass said. “We’re just so proud of the girls tonight. We knew Warde was a tough team. They play very good soccer.”

Trumbull had been beaten in the regular season and again in the conference tourney by the Mustangs, but turned the tables on their familiar foes behind a pair of goals off the foot of Meghan Ahearn and a net-finder from Elizabeth Foley.

Ahearn also had an assist, and Julia Jager had two helpers.

“It feels amazing. This time we knew it was coming,” Ahearn said of the win. “We worked so hard and gave it all we had.”

Eagle goalkeeper Avery Rice stopped seven shots, including a penalty try after a handball in the box with Trumbull protecting a 2-0 lead and 27:57 remaining in the game.

“Once Avery made that save, there was a surge of energy and we followed through,” Ahearn said of the play in which Rice dove to her right to rob Clare Corcoran.

Warde’s Amanda Motkin’s 20-plus yard shot from the left side sailed into the top right corner of the goal, despite a leaping effort by Rice, to make it 2-1 with 7:35 left.

Warde’s confidence was high, especially given the Mustangs struck for two goals in a span of just 1:12 in the FCIAC matchup.

This time around, the Eagles answered only 1:27 later.

Ahearn took a pass from Jager, found herself on a breakaway, and cashed in with a high shot past Warde keeper Caleigh Walklet (seven saves).

Trumbull built a 2-0 halftime lead with goals during the mid and late stages of the opening 40 minutes.

Ahearn’s blast off the post ricocheted to Foley to open the scoring in the 24th minute.

Ahearn scored with just a little more than two minutes left in the half.

Uhrlass said his team’s defensive shape was key.

Eva Solano, Ana Carlos, Meghan Lesko and Grace Lesko played well from the midfield.

Back-liners Kristen Pagliaro, Caitlin Rodko, Brady Lynch and Jessica Esposito all stood tall.

The Mustangs generated five corners to Trumbull’s one.

“Overall, you have to give credit to Trumbull for playing a great game,” Warde coach Tom Cunningham said.