TRUMBULL — St. Joseph girls soccer coach Jack Nogueira noted before today’s game at Trumbull that his team had yet to play up to full potential, most notably because it has been without two of its most dangerous players, Maddie Fried and Andriana Cabral, together for all but the first 40 minutes of the season.
That was the season-opener against the Eagles, a surprising 2-1 loss for the team that would have been the preseason favorite in the FCIAC during a normal season.
In today’s rematch, the Cadets executed better and were stronger to the ball — and needed to be, to come away with a 2-1 win in a very entertaining game. Not surprisingly, Fried and Cabral, back from injuries, handled the scoring.
“We played well,” Nogueira said. “We didn’t play that good against them the first game. A lot of different factors, but we played much better today.”
After setting up Cabral for the game’s first goal, Fried scored the winner in the 73rd minute, just beating Trumbull goalkeeper Julia Marin to the ball, then getting around her to score from a tricky angle. The Eagles’ defense appeared to hesitate on the play, perhaps thinking Fried was offsides.
“I never stop for that kind of stuff,” Fried said. “You always have to keep going until the whistle is blown. We had a lot of opportunities but we couldn’t figure out how to finish them. It was just me and the keeper and I took a touch away from the keeper, and the angle was actually pretty tricky because my touch was a little bit too far and all I saw was the post, but it snuck in there and I was pretty happy about it.”
Fried was taken down on a hard tackle in the first meeting and went into concussion protocol, missing a win over Fairfield Warde before getting cleared to play.
“There’s motivation everywhere,” Fried said. “Just from that play we wanted to win even more because we knew they would come out just as hard so we needed to do the same.”
Fried played creator in 19th minute, sending a short through ball to get Cabral free between two defenders. She finished to the short side.
“Me and Andriana have good ball movements against each other because she’s the attacking mid,” Fried said. “She will run off me and I will run off her. I saw her go through and I just slipped the ball.”
The Cadets (3-1) might have had a few more scores if not for the strong play of the Trumbull defense, which managed to get the ball of Fried’s feet on a couple of occasions, and in particular Marin, who had several sensational saves, a couple from in close. The best came against the Cadets’ Caroline Sheehan in the 55th minute.
“When we’re motivated and we’re focused and we’re ready to play, I’ll play against anybody,” Nogueira said.
The Eagles (2-1-1) demonstrated the first result may not have been as surprising as it appeared at the time. It had many strong stretches and, after a brilliant equalizing goal by Sophia Lowenburg in the 61st minute, opportunities to take the lead.
“I thought we played well,” Trumbull coach Rich Sutherland said. “I thought Sophia scored a great goal to get us back in the game. I think she’s the best player in the state. We need more from one player to keep us going. I don’t think we were as good today as we’ve been.”
The Eagles kept up the pressure after Lowenburg’s goal. Ana Carlos put a ball off the crossbar and Mia DiBello struck a shot from distance that forced Cadets goalkeeper Grace Hickey to make a diving save.
“I thought we competed with in my opinion the best team in the FCIAC,” Sutherland said. “I didn’t think we played to the best of our ability. They are just a very good team and you have to play to the best of your abilities to get a result.”
The teams are scheduled to meet again on Nov. 3 and could have a final game in a regional playoff that was announced today.
“I’m glad that we have Trumbull in our little quad because even though we are rivals, we have respect for each other, but it’s a hard-fought game and every player on that field is going to try their hardest against the other team,” Fried said.