TRUMBULL—The Trumbull boys soccer team likes doing things the hard way.
The Eagles posted quarterfinal and semifinal wins on penalty kicks on their way to the 2018 FCIAC Championship.
And on Tuesday night in the rain, 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime weren’t enough for No. 9 seed Trumbull to vanquish a resolute No. 24 seeded Hamden.
So penalty kicks once more. And the third time was a charm for Trumbull as it beat Hamden, 2-1 (4-2 on PKs) in the opening round of the Class LL Tournament.
“I don’t know how many times we can keep going to the well,” said Trumbull assistant coach Silverio Vitiello. “The postseason is all about survive and advance. And good teams find a way to win.”
The triumph means Trumbull (14-2-4) will travel to battle No. 8 seed Glastonbury Thursday.
GETTING GAME TO PK’s
It wasn’t the best night for the Trumbull High offense. The Eagles played the first half as if there was an FCIAC Championship hangover.
Hamden took advantage just 22 seconds before intermission. Senior striker Nic-Antio Lewis scored opportunistically as the wet ball ricocheted on Giovanni Morales’ free kick from the 30-yardline for 1-0.
Trumbull awoke in the second half of the physical but evenly played contest. The Eagles forced Hamden senior goalie Zach Lane to make 13 of his 20 saves in the second half.
Trumbull forged a 1-1 deadlock with 27:14 left in regulation. Andrew Restrepo’s free kick from the 35-yardline ricocheted and leading scorer Jason Weinstein scored from in close.
“Both goals were similar,” Hamden coach Ralph Romano said. “Deflections.”
RULE NO. 1: LOVE YOUR GOALIE
The star of the evening was Trumbull senior goalie Chris Prizio.
He made four key saves after Trumbull had tied it. And another three saves in the second 10-minute overtime. He stopped two of Hamden’s four penalty kicks.
“We aren’t anywhere in the postseason without Chris. He is our most integral player,” Trumbull’s Vitiello said. “Knowing he will always make three or four big saves gives the coaching staff peace of mind.”
Mindset is everything.
“I go into the penalty kicks thinking whatever happens, happens. If they score, I just toss it away and get set for the next kick,” Prizio said. “It’s all mental. Tonight wasn’t our best game. We missed chances. But when we got to penalty kicks, we felt we were destined to win.”
HAMDEN WAS HEROIC
The Green Dragons (8-7-2) were gutty and gritty to the very end.
“We lost four starters over the final four games (three losses) of the regular season. But our bench filled in nicely,” Hamden coach Romano said. “With penalty kicks, it’s always 50-50. I told the kids to hold their heads high. They should be proud of what they did against the FCIAC champions. I wish our 10 seniors luck at the next level, both academically and athletically. They gave everything they had.”
TRUMBULL 2, HAMDEN 1
Trumbull wins 4-2 on penalty kicks
HAMDEN 1 0 0 0—1
TRUMBULL 0 1 0 0—2
Records: Hamden 8-7-2, Trumbull 14-2-4 overall.
Goals: H—Nic Antio Lewis 39:38. T—Jason Weinstein 54:44. Assists: H—Giovanni Morales. T—Andrew Restrepo. Goalies: H—Zach Lane (20 saves). T—Chris Prizio (11 saves). Penalty Kicks:T—Weinstein goal; John Recker Goal; Dom Zaleski Goal; Justin Horvath Goal. H—Jordan Pattavina Goal; Emmanuel Reyes NG; Hugh-John Dunkley Goal; Orantay Blake NG.