By Josh Brown
TROY — When Reece Sherman’s direct kick with less than two minutes to go sailed over the Greenville goalie’s head and inside the far post, the Troy boys soccer team celebrated as if it had just won its ninth straight game.
The Trojans were merely 17 seconds and a couple of inches from making that a reality.
And while Troy’s winning streak ends at eight to begin the season, Folger Pyle’s goal with 17 seconds left that barely crossed the goal line before the Trojan keeper covered it up only served to tie the score, leaving the Trojans still undefeated but with the first blemish on their record after a 2-2 draw Thursday night at Troy Memorial Stadium.
“No, I’ve never seen that (a play like that that late in a game),” Troy coach Richard Phillips said. “They (Greenville) deserved the tie. They were right there, and they worked hard for it.
“It tells you that you’ve got to stay on top of it, you’ve got to stay in the game, for 80 minutes. You can’t just let up. They came back, they fought hard, and they got the tie.”
It was also the first head-to-head match for both teams in Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play. Troy entered the night 8-0, having finished play against the sister division opponents with a perfect 5-0 record. The Trojans fell to 8-0-1, 5-0-1 in the division standings, putting Tippecanoe — which defeated Sidney 1-0 Thursday — alone atop the American North at 5-0. Greenville, meanwhile, improved to 4-3-2 and 3-1-2 in the division.
And like the Trojans’ game against Xenia earlier this week, where they fell behind 1-0 before rallying for a 2-1 win, they just couldn’t put anything together early on.
Troy’s best first-half chance came at the 28:30 mark when Greenville keeper A.J. Frens came out of the box and all the way to the sideline to try to cut off a Grant Holland breakaway. Troy quickly threw the ball back in and got a high centering kick to Alex Bridge for a try on a header, but Frens ran all the way back and made a diving play to deflect the ball just wide. After another diving save on a header, play got stuck in the midfield for a long time, with neither team able to generate good scoring chances.
With 4:45 left in the first half, though, Greenville’s Tani Mancillas — whose long, powerful throw-ins to the center of the box caused problems all night long — let one fly to Mac Kirk on the run, and Troy keeper Troy Breisch was a split second slow in deciding to come out and cut it off. Kirk was able to deflect the ball past him, and it rolled into the goal to give the Green Wave a 1-0 halftime lead.
“In the first half, they played a much better game than we did,” Phillips said. “We did not play well in that first half. We just didn’t put things together. If we had done that, it could have been a different match, but we didn’t do that. We didn’t work the way we should have.”
That changed in the second half.
The Trojans put immediate pressure on the Greenville defense, pressure that didn’t let up until late in the game. With 33:30 to play, Holland passed to Henry Shaneyfelt open in the center, but his shot went just wide. And two minutes later, Ben Schreiber crossed the ball with Holland making a run in the center of the field, but Holland simply couldn’t get a foot on it to redirect it and it sailed across the field.
But shortly after that, Peyton Hampton crossed the ball and found Shaneyfelt in the center of the field, who made a move to free himself and ripped in the game-tying goal with 30:59 left in the game.
Troy maintained that momentum, too, forcing Greenville to make a pair of non-goalie saves to keep the score even. With 16:10 to go, Holland got free on a breakaway and fired off a shot that Frens saved but could not collect. Holland got to the ball and tried to score his own rebound, but a defender backed up the keeper and was able to stop it and clear it. And with 14:50 to go, Schreiber hit a header toward the far post on a corner kick, but a defender was there to hit it with his chest and clear it. The Trojans kept the pressure on still, with Hampton getting open in front of the goal on another cross and hitting a shot — but Frens was there to dive on it and cover it up with nine minutes to play.
With 1:21 to go, the Trojans lined up for a direct kick from about 25 yards out after a foul. Sherman — a freshman — took the kick and served it toward the far post, putting it in a perfect spot over Frens’ head in the upper-90 to give Troy a 2-1 lead over a stunned Green Wave team.
The Wave didn’t stay stunned for long.
“We had a little bit more desire, knowing that coming into the second half we were down 1-0,” Phillips said. “We wanted to make a better showing than we did in the first half. We came out, we got the tie, kept pressure on them, got the go-ahead goal — but Greenville came right back at us.”
With 17 seconds left on the clock, Mancillas put another long throw-in right in front of the goal, and Pyles got just enough on his shot to roll the ball barely over the goal line before Breisch dove on it. The officials signaled for a goal, and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
Now Troy faces its biggest test of the season to date on Tuesday, hosting 7-2 Sidney before a Saturday non-league matchup against Lebanon.
“This did not help us in the GWOC,” Phillips said. “But Greenville deserved the tie. They played hard. Now we have Sidney and Lebanon coming up, so we’ll be tested again. We just have to be resilient next week and be ready for what’s coming up.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.