NORWALK — Unlike last season, this year’s FCIAC Boys Soccer Tournament final didn’t end with co-champions.
After sharing the championship with Trumbull in 2016, Greenwich had it all to its own Thursday, thanks to an early first-half goal, a tenacious offensive display and effective defensive effort.
Senior Federico Irigoyen’s goal in the ninth minute lifted second-seeded Greenwich to a thrilling 1-0 win over fifth-seeded Trumbull in the title match of the FCIAC Tournament at Norwalk High School.
“I’m really happy about this accomplishment,” GHS coach Kurt Putnam said. “We came out strong, which is no different than what we did against Staples and Norwalk. That’s how we’ve been playing.”
Senior Martin Garcia, who helped efficiently patrol the midfield, was the game’s MVP for Greenwich (14-4-1). The Cardinals and Eagles finished in a 1-1 tie last season in the championship game.
Irigoyen’s goal came with 30:03 remaining in the first half. Awarded a direct kick, following a Trumbull foul, Irigoyen directed his shot past the Eagles’ wall and by goalie Andrew Menjivar inside the left post, making it 1-0.
Menjivar, a senior, dove far to his left side in an attempt to stop the shot.
“I’ve been working on that set piece a lot in practice, taking the shot from different angles,” Irigoyen said. “I just hit it as hard as I could. It feels really good to win it this year, after sharing the title with Trumbull last year. We wanted this for ourselves. No one expected us to win this year after graduating 23 players.”
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The Cardinals had several chances to widen their first-half lead, but it remained a one-goal game after 40 minutes of play.
Off a corner kick, the Cardinals nearly tallied in the 29th minute. Senior Adam Juszczyk got his body on Irigoyen’s corner kick, but Menjivar turned the shot away.
In the 36th minute, junior Andrew Carlson threatened to tally for Greenwich, which held a significant possession edge in the opening half.
Goalie Jimmy Johnson kept Greenwich in front with a save off a shot from 10 yards out by Jason Weinstein in the 12th minute and finished the first half with three saves.
Menjivar made six saves in the first half for the Eagles. Trumbull began the second half strong, applying pressure the first 10 minutes. Johnson made two saves during the span, one if which came off a corner kick.
“Last year was bittersweet, because we tied Trumbull for the title,” said Johnson, a junior captain. “Our defense was outstanding that’s what helped win us this game. Our attack was amazing too. Now we’re looking forward to seeing what we could do at states.”
Johnson finished the game with five saves, while Menivar stopped 10 shots for the Golden Eagles (12-5-2).
“We picked it up in the second half, we needed to pick it up,” said Trumbull coach Sebastian Gangemi, whose squad dropped a 1-0 decision to Greenwich during the regular season. “Greenwich played a great first half and had a lot of possession, so we did a couple of different things and made some adjustments in the middle of the field.”
Trumbull had a pair of set pieces during the final three minutes of action, but Greenwich cleared two corner kicks out of harm’s way.
“I’m very proud of our team and the effort they gave the whole game,” Gangemi said. “We had some chances, especially in the second half, but we didn’t capitalize. That was the story of the game.”
Garcia, Jonathan Agudelo, Irigoyen and Francisco Liguori helped GHS generate chances and maintain possession a good portion of the matchup. Thomas Lewis helped pace the Cards defensively.
“I’m really happy for the team and the way they pulled this together,” said Putnam, who proudly wore his FCIAC championship medal around his neck. “Our work rate was fantastic, behind the ball, in front of the ball. It was a great game.”
GREENWICH 1, TRUMBULL 0
TRUMBULL 0 0 — 0
GREENWICH 1 0 — 1
Records: Greenwich 14-4-1; Trumbull; 12-5-2
Goals: G — Federico Irigoyen; Goalies: T — Andrew Menjivar (10 saves); G — Jimmy Johnson (5 saves).