TRUMBULL — Stay the course.
That was the call to arms from both St. Joseph coach Thomas Connolly and Trumbull coach Sil Vitiello when the FCIAC and town rivals played to a 0-0 draw at the Dalling Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon.
The hosting Cadets were instructed to play with composure and adrenalin. The Eagles were out to stay in attack-mode.
“Attitude set the tone for us today,” Connolly said after his team, now 1-8-2, picked up its second consecutive tie (2-2 with New Canaan on Thursday). “We knew we couldn’t go toe-to-toe with them. We wanted to keep 11 behind the ball and counter when we could. We had one great chance in each half.”
Vitiello’s Eagles are now 6-1-2 with the only loss coming 2-1 to Darien in Week 2.
“It’s the result,” Viteillo responded when asked if his team’s solemn post-match demeanor was more about the result or the rival. “We keep emphasizing that (the FCIAC) is tough sledding. We had a hard time getting space in the middle. Credit St. Joseph they had the plan. Even without time and space, we still created our shots.”
Trumbull held the edge in shots, 13-3.
St. Joseph freshman keeper Deaglan Prendergast made seven saves with many of the other salvos by the Eagles just missing at each post.
Trumbull’s Nick Grassi had three stellar saves before leaving in the 63rd minute with an injury. Dante Palmieri came on for the rest of the game.
St. Joe’s Manny Santos fired a good curving ball off a free kick over a four-man wall, but Grassi made the tough save in the third minute.
Jack Attanasio had the next best chance for the Cadets, as he made a fine shot while being tackled by Nicola Milovanov at the midway point of the second half. Grassi stayed at the post to grab the rifled volley.
Every time the Cadets looked to go on the offensive with Carlos Barrera, Manny Santos, Christian Cinque and Jake Pacacha at the other end, it risked giving the Eagles a chance to counter.
Justin Horvath, Tucker David and Matt Bagley had the best opportunities, but getting the ball through was never easy.
Nick Valverde, Carson Rodriguez, Niko Guzzi and Anthony Fiatarone were staunch defenders in front of Prendergast. Ben Melvin, Attanasio, Robert Lewicki, Brett Ingram and Michael Derivan played well on 50-50 and second-ball chances in the midfield.
Trumbull’s Carrigan Culligam was the stopper with Brendan Phelan and Tucker David standing alongside the senior tri-captain.
With the middle closed, Eagle midfielders Roberto Echenique, Tiago Frazao, Milovanov, Matheus Martins, Gabe Morgia and Alex Candelaria were adept at getting the ball wide to Horvath and Bagley.
“Everything we want is still in front of us,” said Vitiello, who pointed to next week’s schedule of games with Warde, Wilton, Danbury and Greenwich.
St. Joseph will meet Ludlowe, Ridgefield and Staples.
“We have three freshman starters and only a small group of seniors,” Connolly said. “We are a young team maturing each match.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
St. Joseph’s Deaglan Prendergast faced an unwavering challenge from the Eagles. A freshman keeper, Prendergast played above his years in securing a point for the Cadets.
“We knew we couldn’t go toe-to-toe with them. We wanted to keep 11 behind the ball and counter when we could.” — St. Joseph coach Thomas Connolly