Girls soccer: Trumbull's Presser provides winner

The Trumbull High girls soccer team has struggled putting the ball in the net all season long. With a host of young players and no pure goal scorer, that much was expected.

Monday night, Trumbull’s frustration reached its apex as much-improved Norwalk and talented junior goalie Imelda Lazaro looked like they were going to send the Eagles home with another disappointing result.

Trumbull out-shot the Bears 22-0 over the first 75 minutes but simply could not convert.

Finally, with time running out in the second half, junior midfielder Jillian Presser scored the type of goal that just might have saved the season.

Presser scored off a crossing pass by senior midfielder Francesca Esposito with 4:20 left in the second half to lift the Eagles to a huge 1-0 victory over the Bears under the lights at McDougall Field.

“That was like 100 pounds off my shoulders,” said Presser, who leads the Eagles with four goals this season. “With that much time left, I knew I needed to put one away. Thankfully, I did.”

Esposito started the scoring play on the left side of the field, sending a long pass through the goal crease to the right post. Not really in a great position to shoot, Presser took a stab at the ball with her right leg and somehow managed to poke it past Lazaro for the game-winner.

“To the untrained eye, it might have looked like she was just sticking her leg out,” Trumbull head coach Daniel Uhrlass said. “But Jillian is good. She knew what she was doing.”

Lazaro was nearly unbeatable, making 13 saves, including a number of fantastic diving stops as Trumbull pressured the Norwalk net from start to finish. Presser was denied early in the first half on a direct kick from 30 yards out that appeared as if it was going to curl into the net, only to be punched over the top of the crossbar by a leaping Lazaro.

Perhaps the quirky goal Presser scored to win it was the only way Lazaro was going to get beat.

“I just wanted to get something on it. Honestly, anything on net is an opportunity,” Presser said. “I knew she was good. That time I don’t think she was ready for it, so I knew if I could execute I could finish it.”

The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Trumbull, which went 0-2-1 over its previous three games to fall to 3-4-1 overall. The Eagles have only dipped below the .500 mark just one other time during the coaching tenure of Uhrlass, so getting back to even (4-4-1) was imperative.

“We needed it,” Uhrlass said. “The pressure was building, so we really needed that goal and the win.”

Trumbull finished with a 25-0 advantage in shots and a 4-1 edge in corner kicks.

“This is a huge win,” Presser said. “It’s going to give us momentum. I know we’ve had a rough couple of games, but this should give us some momentum and the positivity to have success going forward.”

Trumbull dominated possession in the offensive end behind the play of Presser, Esposito, Meghan Ahearn and Ashley Storino.

Storino had a handful of great scoring opportunities, but hit the crossbar on a long shot with18:30 left in the second half before getting stoned on a two-handed diving rejection by Lazaro three minutes later.

A nice two-way passing play by Ahearn and Storino produced another solid chance with five minutes left but the cross was just out of the reach of a hustling Meghan Lesko.

When Presser scored, the game was effectively over. While Norwalk (2-6) played well technically, it struggled to find offense. The Bears cross midfield a handful of times in the first half, creating one good scoring chance on a corner kick. But Norwalk never got the ball into the offensive third of the field over the final 40 minutes with Kristen Pagliaro and Eva Solano playing solid defense in the center of the field.

Trumbull goalie Aisling Maguire didn’t need to make a save.