TRUMBULL — St. Joseph keeper Cameron Reichenbach played the angles, head coach Thomas Connolly went with the percentages, and the fifth-seeded Cadets defeated fourth-seeded Trumbull 1-0 in the first round of the FCIAC East Region boys’ soccer tournament at Sebe Gangemi Field on Wednesday.
— Bill Bloxsom (@blox354) November 4, 2020
“It was all about the defense getting in the lanes, and then it was up to me if they got through,” said Reichenbach, a senior who finished with 11 saves. “That is the mentality. I’m the last line of defense. If I fail them, then it’s on me. I pride myself on playing hard with this team every day and never wanting to fail them.”
St. Joseph’s Jack Attanasio showed off his strong left leg to put the ball over the top 40 yards downfield to Manny Santos, who was cutting left to right. He beat Trumbull keeper Blaine Garcia to the ball and placed it inside the near post.
That goal in the 23rd minute held up despite St. Joseph getting a red card with just under 5 minutes left in the first half.
Rich MacDaniel for Trumbull made a strong rush up the right side and turned the corner, where he was fouled leading to Attanasio getting a red card at the 4:36 mark. The free kick just to the left of the 18-yard box near the touchline was booted wide, but the penalty did impact the rest of the game.
“When our senior center-back was sent off, we had to change our formation,” Connolly said of losing Attanasio. “We went to a 4-4-1, which kind of suits us because we played it last year. We hadn’t played it this year because we are a little more on our front foot on offense. But because the boys were familiar with it, we could resort to that today.”
Trumbull coach Sil Vitiello expected the switch.
“We said at halftime they were going to play 10 men behind the ball and do the best they can to get in the lane and deny services,” Vitiello said. “They did the little things they had to do to keep the ball out of the net. The game is cruel sometimes.”
At the break, Trumbull led 10-4 in shots and 5-1 in corners The Eagles increased that advantage when play resumed to 15-0 in shots and an astounding 10-1 in corner chances.
Phillip Pires was ready and waiting for Trumbull when Bruno Brasil turned the corner and fed him in front, but Reichenbach stopped the point-blank shot three minutes into the second half.
Reichenbach read the next foray, making a diving stop of Pires’ cross to Franco Milovanov.
“He (Reichenbach) was the man-of-the-match,” Vitiello said. “He made spectacular saves on us. I couldn’t ask my boys to do anything more. The guys maintained their composure, they created chances. Against a team playing that many guys back, you want to push the ball out wide and get your services in there. Then you hope to beat someone to a ball or have it kick off a heel and go in. We needed something like that to happen and it just didn’t.”
With each Trumbull pass having a purpose, St. Joseph’s Carson Rodriguez, Brett Ingram, Kevin DiCocco and Mike Fiatarone (on for Attanasio), fronted by Matt Guzzi, Anthony Fiatarone and Jake Pacacha, did their best to slow the Eagles.
Connolly said: “Our back four was immense, and then we put two center-mids in front of them, so we had a block of six. Toward the end we had 5 in the back and 2 in front of them. They made every tackle, they put their heads in where I wouldn’t put my head in. They were so brave. They got their just reward.”
Trumbull had 5 corner opportunities in a 3-minute stretch, but Reichenbach tipped a shot from Pires wide (22:51), tipped Milovanov’s boot over the crossbar (22:00) and saved Brasil’s rip (20:31).
Trumbull was called for being offsides with 8:11 remaining to negate Brasil’s goal off a pass from Milovanov.
Trumbull had three great chances in the first 8 minutes of the game only to see Reichenbach make a save on Sean Racette at the post (36:00), punch away a blast from Brasil (35:35) and Carrigan Cullinan (30:15) on a cross from the always active Milovanov.
Reichenbach said about choosing to come off his line: “You make yourself big, give them the tightest angle possible. If they score, kudos to them. In those rushing out moments, I stood big, and got down quick.”
The rivals had split 2-1 decisions in the regular season.
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