FAIRFIELD - It’s only mid-September but Warde and Trumbull were playing like it was mid-November and there was a FCIAC championship on the line.

For 80 minutes, the Mustangs and the Golden Eagles went back and forth, playing some serious playoff-type soccer with each side, taking, and losing, the momentum. In the end, two undefeated teams remained that way as Warde and Trumbull finished in a 3-3 tie Tuesday afternoon at Warde.

“It was a war … but it was an even game,” Trumbull coach Sebastian Gangemi said. “A nice, even game. A fair result. We’ll pick up the pieces from here and go forward.”

Not that there’s a lot to put back together on either side. Warde (3-0-1) controlled a lot of the possession in the first half, taking a 2-1 lead at halftime but Trumbull (3-0-2) changed some things around and used that to score twice and take a 3-2 lead before the Mustangs evened matters with just over 22 minutes to play.

“We tried to get wider on the ball and create some more room on the sides,” Gangemi said. “We did that and we scored two goals. Then, we made a mistake.”

That came in the 63rd minute as Warde’s Jason Deck controlled a ball down the left side, fed a pass into the box, right where Jack Ryan was waiting and he beat Trumbull goalkeeper Jonathan Campbell to make it a 3-3 game.

“We always talk about the measure of a man is how he deals with adversity and I think we dealt with the adversity quite well,” Warde coach Justin Ottavio said. “We controlled the mental game in the first half quite well. We moved the ball quite well and we capitalized on some opportunities. In the end, it was a terrific game to be a part of and coach.”

Warde’s Jonathan Schuster scored in the 22nd minute after taking a crossing pass from Jason Deck and beating Campbell to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead, but two minutes later, Trumbull’s Daniel Folchick controlled a loose ball in the box and beat Mustangs keeper Matt Skelton to make it a 1-1 game.

Four minutes after the Golden Eagles had tied it, Warde untied it as Schuster - off a direct kick from some 25 yards out - caught Trumbull still setting up its defense and hooked a shot into the net to make it 2-1.

“I saw that they weren’t set up, so I thought ‘why not?’ ” Schuster said. “Coach Ottavio is always reminding us of the rules. We were definitely expecting this kind of game. There’s a lot of great technical players on both teams, we were looking forward to it.”

“Jonathan … his soccer IQ is amazing,” Ottavio said. “He always knows what’s going on and he reads the game so well. He’s always composed. He’s a great player. He led us and that’s what great players do. They put you on their back and they carry you.”

After Trumbull changed its strategy at halftime, the Golden Eagles used goals from Jason Weinstein (51st minute) and Folchick (53rd minute) to give Trumbull a 3-2 lead but Deck powered down the left sideline, crossed into the box and found Jack Ryan in the box and he scored with 22:53 to play and tie the game at 3-3.

“I think both teams were jousting for FCIAC dominance and be the best and you can’t ask for more than that,” Ottavio said. “Our composure was ideal. It was a great game to be a part of. I know we both wanted to win but I thought it was a fair draw.”

With just over 17 minutes to play, Trumbull’s Weinstein hit the post on a tough angle shot that would have given the Golden Eagles the lead. It was the last of the best scoring opportunities between the two teams.

“They’re a tough team. And it’s a tough game,” Gangemi said. “Punching and counter-punching. Show me what you got and I’ll show you what I have.”

“It’s nice to play a possession game and that would have been ideal, but to their credit, they pressured us well,” Ottavio said. “They have some very technical players but if we don’t falter, we don’t grow, so I think we both grew from this game.”

celsberry@ctpost.com; elsctpost@Twitter.com

(30)