Soccer community comes together on Sebe Night
Trumbull High boys soccer coach Sebastian Gangemi was aware of all that was taking place around him.
Two hours removed from being a patient at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, Gangemi, who has been undergoing treatment for leukemia that was discovered last April, entered McDougall Stadium on a golf cart, passing one table for donations and another with donor forms.
From the sideline, Gangemi, watched, as who he called, “His boys,” warmed up prior to the Eagles playing host to St. Joseph on Sebe Night on Monday.
“All these years, I’ve loved to have been able to give to my boys,” said Gangemi, who has coached the Eagles for 14 seasons. “This is my school, the school where my children graduated. Trumbull soccer means everything to me.”
The Eagles gave back more than a 4-1 victory.
“I coached this game with him by my side — and he’ll always be there in my mind and in my heart,” Trumbull assistant coach Silverio Vitiello said. “As his assistant coach, Sebe always told me to speak my mind, to ask for input. He treats me as a peer and a colleague. And he treats his players with love and respect.
“Sebe is beloved in this community. He always gives and never asks. Tonight it was important to us all to give something to him.”
Team Sebe, shirts and bracelets were everywhere.
The Trumbull Fire Department dispatched a truck to the field and wished him well over the truck’s speaker.
The respect for the man and the coach was far reaching.
“This is special, for me to be here on this night,” St. Joseph boys coach Carlos Reinoso Jr. said. “I’ve grown up knowing him. Coach Gangemi played soccer with my father. It was great to have my team here to honor him. He is close to my heart. It was great to see him here, on the soccer field, where he is at home.”
Tiago Frazao scored off a corner kick from Nicola Milovanov at the 6:53 mark of this FCIAC contest between the 7-2-1 Eagles and the 3-5-2 Cadets.
Trumbull had the best of possession and opportunity throughout the 45-minute first half.
Brendan Phelan, Matthew Bagley, Justin Horvath, Frazao and Milovanov battled the Cadets’ Ben Talbot, Carlos Barrera, Nick Valverde, Manny Santos, Cristian Cinque and Jack Attanasio in the midfield.
Cadet defenders Sawyer Meehan, Kenny Schneider, Mark Leonardi and Jack McDermott looked to keep the box clear for keeper Tyler Higgins (three saves).
Trumbull’s defense, led by John-Michael Recker, Bryant Recker, Carrigan Cullinan and Howard Qian, had to be wary of the quick strike ability of Robert Razzaia, Santos and Talbot.
The Eagles’ Chris Prizio (two saves) had a clean sheet, before Nick Grassi came in with 21 minutes remaining and made four saves.
Orlando Fernandes scored off a Jason Weinstein assist, as Trumbull took the score to 2-0 with 1:22 remaining in the first half.
St. Joseph created a few chances early in the second half, with Cinque, Razzaia and Barrera making life difficult only to have Culligan, John-Michael Recker and Bryant Recker clear away the opportunities.
Andrew Restrepo chipped the ball in net off a throw-in to give Trumbull a 3-0 lead with 23:47 left to play.
Talbot, only a minute after stepping back to the net to clear a Trumbull chance after Higgins came out to deflect a Weinstein shot, went low toward the turf to head in Meehan’s corner and make it 3-1 with 13:57 remaining.
Trumbull answered at the 5:20 mark, when Weinstein blasted in a goal after taking a long pass from Fernandes.
When asked if he was worried about the emotional turn his team was taking on Sebe Night, Vitiello said, "It helps that it's St. Joe's. Crosstown rival, regardless of record coming in, you guys have been around sports a long time: You throw those records out the window.
"Especially coming off the Greenwich game (a 1-0 loss). I think it was a blessing that it was a crosstown rival. You don't have to worry about a letdown."
Note: All monies raised at the game will go to the National Leukemia Research Foundation.