FAIRFIELD -- The game clock was ticking down under 10 minutes to play and the home team was hanging on to a one-goal lead when Trumbull assistant coach Silverio Vitiello shouted across the field to his players, “It’s time for big boy soccer.”
For 70 minutes, there had been plenty of big boy soccer from both Trumbull and Fairfield Warde with the Mustangs rallying from a halftime deficit to hold a 3-2 lead as the game clock ticked down toward crunch time. But with just over six minutes left, the Eagles showed that big boy mentality as Howard Qian connected for the equalizer in what would end up being a 3-3 tie Wednesday afternoon at Tetreau-Davis Field.
“It’s always fun to play Trumbull because they bring the best out of us in terms of heart and determination,” Warde coach Justin Ottavio said. “I’m happy with the result. It would have been nice to have a win, but I’ll take a point.”
The tie left both teams still in the middle of a log jam for the top spots in the FCIAC. Ridgefield defeated Central to keep them atop the conference with 26 points (7-0-5) while Trumbull (7-1-3) and Staples (7-2-3) are tied for second at 24 points and Warde is right behind at 7-3-1 (22 points).
“We’re all right there. It’s been a heck of a season already,” said Trumbull head coach Sebastian Gangemi. “We played well. I would have liked to get three points, but we’ll take one. That’s better than none. With six minutes to go, we weren’t getting any (points) but we got one that’s good enough.”
“The mantra is battle tested,” Ottavio said. “I think all the teams in the FCIAC become battle tested. It’s a great testament to our league that we go in day in and day out and have the parity that we have. But it’s also a double-edged sword because we wear each other down.”
Trailing 3-2, the Eagles got the tying goal off a great throw in from Justin Horvath, who launched it into the box. Warde keeper Cameron Millington couldn’t control it and Qian was right there to drive it home and tie matters at 3-3.
“It was a great game,” Gangemi said, who was diagnosed with leukemia back in April and continues to battle the disease. “We competed, they led, we come back, they come back, we come back again, back and forth. Two great teams at work. It was a great game to watch.”
Thanks to a defensive mistake by the Eagles, Warde’s Lucas Montero scored in the opening minute to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead but goals from Tiago Frazao and Carrigan Cullinan allowed Trumbull to hold a 2-1 halftime lead. Warde, however, answered with goals two minutes apart from Mario Morataya and Daniel Villalba to grab a 3-2 lead with 30 minutes to go.
“We did some tactical adjustments but overall, it falls on them (the players), the adjustment that they made was that, they came to play,” Ottavio. “They had determination. They’ve dealt with adversity in the past. It’s a testament to their work ethic.”
WARDE 3, TRUMBULL 3
TRUMBULL 2 1 -- 3
WARDE 1 2 -- 3
Records: Warde (7-3-1, 7-3-1 FCIAC); Trumbull (7-1-3, 7-1-3 FCIAC)
Goals: W - Lucas Montero, Mario Montero, Daniel Villalba; T - Tiago Frazao, Carrigan Cullinan, Howard Qian
Assists: W - Villabla, Adam Schwartz; T - Justin Horvath (2), Nicola Milovanov
Goalies: W - Cameron Millington (9 saves); T - Christopher Prizio (11 saves).