Trumbull High girls lacrosse coach Mike Spinner stalked the sideline giving instructions to his team, and as the clock wound down on the Eagles’ 12-8 victory over St. Joseph on May 7, Spinner broke into a smile when the buzzer sounded.

“I told them how proud I was of them,” Spinner said. “Being the new coach I was teaching them A to Z and I knew it would take time.

“I’ve been a goalie my entire time in lacrosse, so I never speak to Arianna Matz. I just let her play.

“Tonight, at halftime I told her we needed her and she was brilliant. We held them to two goals and Arianna made some great stops that really gave us a lift.”

Matz finished with 12 saves and kept St. Joseph off the board for the last 20:32 of this FCIAC matchup.

Trumbull (5-7-1) had a 7-6 lead at the half and used some outstanding defense and controlled possession after intermission.

“We had trouble tonight with groundballs and Trumbull got to them faster than we did, and I think that was the difference,” St. Joseph coach Rob Marino said.

“For the season, I’m pleased with how we’ve progressed. We have five wins (5-7-1) and could have had a few more. A town rivalry is always tough and Trumbull played better than we did.”

The Eagle defenders, from back to front, Kerry Marques, Kelly Reho, Alex Pirog, Maggie Parisi and Jamie Appelberg, helped slow the Cadets.

St. Joseph took a 2-0 lead on goals from Lauren Della Vecchia and Nicole Healey, on a quick transition pass from Lindsay Lucifora, in the first five minutes.

“St. Joseph did a great job taking away our primary scoring threats early,” Spinner said. “A month ago, we probably don’t score 12 goals because we relied too much on a few scorers. To have eight players score our 12 goals during a tight game was just fantastic.”

Trumbull came back.

Stevi Dineley won a groundball after a missed free position shot and fed Carly Goroff, who came around the cage and beat the defense and goalie Mikayla Konecny.

Konecny denied Goroff on her next shot opportunity, but Trumbull tied things when Lauren Canchola took a pass from Parisi and ducked under a Cadet defender to score on a low shot at 16:45 of the first half.

The rivals swapped the lead, as Trumbull attack wings Natalie Crowe, Emily Uus, Nila Caballero and Avery Collins fed Nora Collins, Canchola, Melissa Lindine, Maddie Collins, Dinely and Goroff.

St. Joseph’s Mairead Donahue, Devan Cargnel and Della Vecchia counted on Katherine Adams, Healey and Kyle Munger to propel the attack.

Konecny had help up front from Sophia Ronge, Cassi Arpino, Mackenzie Spadinger, Nicole Scinto and Devin Colandro.

Nora Collins scored at 15:27, but Cargnel answered 47 seconds later.

“I was especially proud of Nora Collins tonight,” Spinner said. “Nora is enjoying a solid season overall, but we’ve had to play her all over the field, so her numbers may not reflect how well she has played.

“For a senior who has not been the spotlight for our offense to enjoy a game like Nora did, on this kind of stage, was just amazing.

“When the games are this big, you need to rely on your seniors, and they all played well tonight, but Nora’s game was huge.”

Healey made a fine play and passed to a breaking Munger for a 4-3 St. Joseph lead at 13:50.

Matz and Konecny traded saves before Uss came around the frame and found an opening for a 4-4 tie with 12:18 left in the half.

Coming out of a Trumbull timeout, Goroff slipped, recovered, and fed Crowe, who was fouled.

She scored off the free position for a 5-4 Eagle lead.

Spadinger scored for St. Joseph, Nora Collins on a doorstep pass from Crowe, before Healey scored from just inside the right side of the arc at 3:45 for a 6-6 tie.

Matz deflected a high shot from Munger with under a minute remaining in the first half, Pirog took control, and Trumbull countered.

Appelberg found Goroff on the run, and after a holding call, Goroff scored to the short side to give Trumbull a 7-6 lead at the half.

“At all ends of the field we played our best second half all season,” Spinner said. “This was a playoff-caliber intense game and the players kept their heads. I’m seeing them grow up before my eyes and I’m one proud Pop.”

Della Vecchia drew the Cadets even at 7 at 22:55 of the second half, and Trumbull’s Avery Collins and St. Joseph’s Donahue matched tallies for an 8-8 tie with 20:32 remaining.

A deep pass from Crowe to Maddie Collins led to a ground-skimming goal and Trumbull had a 9-8 lead.

Matz stopped Munger at 18:28 and Trumbull spread its attack from the restraining line to the wide side and reran its offense for a three-minute period, before Colandro deflected a pass to Ronga and the Cadets countered down one.

Healey attacked the net only to be denied by Matz with 11:26 remaining in the game.

Lindene scored at 9:20 to increase the Trumbull lead to 10-8. Appelberg won her team-high sixth groundball to reset the Eagle attack and Nora Collins scored to make it 11-8 with 8:26 on the clock.

Lindine patiently waited for an opening before finishing off the 12-8 win with a goal at 4:49.

“When we made the decision to start the whole system from scratch on all ends of the field, we knew we would struggle at times, but our goal was for everything to come together come May,” Spinner said. “I think we are achieving just that. The last three games (wins over Masuk of Monroe and McMahon of Norwalk), and especially tonight, we put everything together and it looks great.

“We’re one win away from the CIAC Tournament, and if we make it, everybody is going to overlook us. I certainly am not proclaiming us to be a favorite, but I really like this team. I just hope they have some more nights like tonight so they can understand how much they have accomplished.”