FAIRFIELD — On a night its soon-to-be career scoring leader was held without a goal, the Trumbull boys soccer team exhibited the overall skill level it hopes will prove of championship stock.
In an open and well-played game between league contenders, the Eagles twice answered tying goals and came away with a 3-2 win at Fairfield Ludlowe on Justin Horvath’s finish in the 75th minute.
“Whenever we come here it’s always a battle,” Trumbull coach Sebe Gangemi said. “I have a good team, he has a great team. This was like a November game. We score, they come back, we score, they come back.”
The Falcons, outplayed for a good part of the second half, forged a 2-2 tie in the 65th minute when George Cortes curled a shot inside the left post.
The Eagles (5-0-1), one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the league, earned the three points on a play orchestrated from hard work by Andrew Restrepo down the right side. Restrepo freed himself to deliver a centering pass and Horvath was in front of the goal for the one-touch finish.
“Andrew Restrepo took his man down the line and had a great ball in and my foot was just there and I hit it in,” Horvath said.
The play was a testament to the resiliency the Eagles demonstrated throughout the night — and so far this season.
“Keep working. Our motto is keep working,” Gangemi said. “If they score on you, they score on you. Just put our heads down and keep going.”
That was basically how the contest played out as Trumbull repeatedly was forced to answer.
Restrepo opened the scoring in the 18th minute on a hard shot that should have been stopped.
The Falcons came right back. Zaid Atta drilled a shot through a wall of players and into the right side to tie the game at 1-1.
Trumbull went back ahead on a brilliant set piece from Nicola Milovanov. He struck a ball from about 40 yards out and delivered it high into the far side for a 2-1 lead in the 48th minute.
Ludlowe (3-2-1), which lost the battle of possession time in the second half, capitalized on Cortes’ play.
That set the stage for Horvath.
“We had heart in that game,” Horvath said. “We didn’t play too good in the first half but the second half we really stepped it up and played our game.”
The Falcons are expected by many to be title contenders and nothing in their play dispelled that idea.
“It was a good game, two good teams,” Ludlowe coach Kevin O’Hara said. “Trumbull is always going to be Trumbull. A physical team, they’ve got two great players. They are very well organized in the back too. We were having trouble getting through their defense. Credit them, two nice goals they got, we came back, I thought we fought well and unfortunately just giving up that one at the end.”
The Falcons contained Jason Weinstein, the league’s most dangerous threat, whose next goal will make him the Eagles’ all-time scoring leader.
“We wanted to shut him down and if other guys scored so be it,” O’Hara said. “We made some mistakes in our box defensively. Two of them we should have been more disciplined and cleared, and more responsible with our marking and we just made some mistakes unfortunately and they capitalized on them.”
The Eagles were able to grind out an impressive road victory.
“It was a battle back and forth, back and forth the whole time,” Gangemi said. “Did we dominate? I don’t think so. It was balanced. I like this team a lot. Everybody’s a worker.”