TRUMBULL — When the St. Joseph girls soccer team took on rival Trumbull there was a different feel than other season openers.
Trumbull’s 2-1 victory over the Cadets on Thursday was a decided change. After practicing in 10-player cohorts for weeks, and a week of full practice, fans were treated to a rugged, evenly played contest. St. Joseph is an open campus and parents sat in the stands and along the hill above the playing field.
“Any result against St. Joe’s is a good result, they are a very good team,” Trumbull coach Rich Sutherland said. “This is my fourth year, and the last two years both games were close and we lost each by a goal. They were all very good goals. Today, all three goals were a bit scrappy in my opinion. First game, both rusty, only a week to prepare.”
Trumbull’s Sophia Lowenburg’s goal off a corner following a mad scramble in front of Cadets goalkeeper Grace Hickey broke the 1-all deadlock 59:39 into the match.
St. Joseph All-American Maddie Fried gave the Cadets a 1-0 lead when her strike from 15-yards out snuck inside the near post at the 14:36 mark. Annie Stook had the assist.
Fried was injured when the ball and a defender reached her feet simultaneously with under a minute remaining in the first half. The Villanova-bound senior went head over heels. She left under her own power and did not return.
Photo: Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media
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“Credit Trumbull,” St. Joseph coach Jack Nogueria said. “A lot of things happened, you lose the best player on the pitch, but that is not an excuse. You have to find a way to win. First game, we will try to move on and get better.”
Trumbull knotted the score on Liz Foley’s tally in the 51st minute off one of the Eagles’ six corners. St. Joseph had four.
“We started well with them,” Sutherland said. “I think they controlled from about the last 10 minutes of the first half and 20 minutes in the second, and then I thought our girls did great.”
Without a true state tournament to determine the best team for 2020, and teams only playing its geographically closest rivals, the usual battle for FCIAC supremacy will be on a back burner.
The locals’ season features a truncated schedule, with St. Joseph, Trumbull, Warde, Ludlowe and Central playing a 10-game round-robin.
Said Lowenburg, who will play next at Boston College: “This (with no league or state tournaments) is where we have to play to win, because there isn’t that moving on type vibe. It was a contact game with St. Joe’s, we always want to play well. You have to play to win every play.”
St. Joseph pressed well late, with Trumbull goalkeeper Julie Marin putting up a stonewall on Stook’s tough shot off a corner with 2:14 left on the clock.
“I was really nervous this being my first varsity game,” said Marin, a junior. “I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t played against St. Joe’s; I hadn’t played against Maddie Fried. After the first goal I let it get to me, then I said I’m not going to let another goal in. I’ve heard some goalies don’t like corners, personally I love corners. I just look for the ball and go and get it. This was very exciting.”
Said Sutherland: “I thought Julie made some very good decisions late in the game. She took command in the back. I think Sophia is one of the best players in the league, in the state. She made important tackles, played some good balls.”
St. Joseph had 25 shots to 10 for Trumbull. Marin made 15 saves. Hickery had 6 for St. Joseph.
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