Looking like anything but a No. 1 taking on a No. 8 seed, Saturday’s FCIAC quarterfinals between top-seeded Trumbull and New Canaan – anything but a walk in the park for top-seeded Trumbull – came right down to the wire.
In the end, Trumbull’s Lauren Hyde’s goal with 5:39 remaining gave her team a 2-1 win and put the Eagles into Thursday’s FCIAC semifinals against No. 5 Greenwich at 7 p.m. at Norwalk High School.
Trumbull keeps cool in crunch time: After Trumbull permitted the game-tying goal with only 12:54 to play, it would have been easy for the Eagles to surrender momentum to the Rams.
However, Trumbull was right back on the attack, and even after being denied on several difficult saves by New Canaan’s Alexandra Yuditski, the Eagles broke through with the eventual game-winner.
With less than a minute left, New Canaan got a free kick deep in Trumbull territory, but a long clear by Trumbull’s Nicole Schwartz clinched the win.
“I think our experience helps. Last year we went to the state finals, so our girls were real hungry,” Trumbull coach Daniel Uhrlass said. “When (New Canaan) responded to tie up the game, we didn’t drop our heads.”
Quality over quantity: Trumbull had 13 corner kick opportunities compared to only three by New Canaan, but it was New Canaan which converted one of those kicks into a goal when Anna Borea found Gabriella Borea for the header to tie the game at 1-1.
Less than a week earlier, the Rams picked up a critical 1-0 win over Staples, and that goal was also the result of a well-placed corner kick by Anna Borea, who set up Courtney Overacker for the game’s only goal, so the Rams have certainly made the most of their opportunities.
Of Trumbull’s 13 corners, none led directly to a goal. The Eagles got decent looks off of corners, but few appeared destined to turn into a goal. Of course, this was also due in large part to strong defense by New Canaan.
Players making plays: It would have been easy to assume that offense had an edge over defense, but that wasn’t necessarily the case.
Trumbull’s defense permitted only five shots by New Canaan, while New Canaan defenders, including Kelly Armstrong, cleared away multiple scoring opportunities right before a Trumbull player could take the shot.
All three goals were the results of the offense executing, and it is unlikely that any goalie in the FCIAC would have come up with the save.
And when a win-or-go-home clash is tied and only six minutes remain, the last thing either team wants to see is costly miscue by one of their players. The better ending is always when someone makes a play rather than a mistake, and that’s exactly what happened when Hyde put her shot exactly where it needed to be – just inside the left post and just outside of diving save range.