By Josh Brown
BELLEFONTAINE — As the regular season wound down, the Troy girls soccer team took on the talented Centerville Elks in a matchup it knew would prepare the team for the tournament, falling 2-0 on Oct. 8.
Even that game couldn’t have prepared the Trojans for the way the Elks played Tuesday night.
Centerville’s Taran McMillan had a hat trick in the game’s first 11 minutes, and while the Trojans got a score to make it a two-goal game at the half, the third-seeded Elks (11-5-2) scored two quick goals in the second half to recapture momentum and coasted to a 6-1 victory in the Division I sectional championship game Tuesday night at Bellefontaine High School.
“They (Centerville) were really good tonight,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said. “That’s one of the best teams in the area, and they were clicking on all cylinders for sure.
“I think we did a lot of things to help them out that were uncharacteristic of us, some uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns that we don’t normally have.”
After Troy’s sectional semifinal win against Butler, Rasey said that it would “take something special to get by” senior goalkeeper Arianna Garcia. Tuesday, though Centerville showed the ability to get open for indefensible shots at will early on.
With 36:25 to go in the first half, McMillan drove her first goal in from 20 yards out. And at the 31:47 mark, she finished once again to make it 2-0 Centerville. And at 29:11, she finished off her hat trick by one-timing in a perfect cross to make it 3-0 before the Trojans could even blink.
“They’ve got some Division I soccer players,” Rasey said. “When you give them open looks, they’re going to score. I don’t care how good the defense or goalkeeper is, if you give that caliber of player open looks, it’s going to be hard to compete.”
Troy slowly began to work the ball the other direction, taking its first corner kick try at 28:00 but being unable to get a shot off. But with 24:50 to go in the half, Kiyha Adkins was able to steal the ball from an Elk defender in front of the goal and beat keeper Kasey Perry one-on-one to score her first goal of the season and make it a two-goal game.
“The thing about Kiyha, she brings a spark every time she hits the field,” Rasey said. “She missed a big part of the year due to injury, but she’s an exciting young player — and she kind of showed everybody else what can happen when you have some intensity and put some pressure on the ball.
“She’s an exciting young player, and that’s one way to get your first goal of the year — against one of the best teams in the area. She’s played some big minutes here at the end of the year.”
The Trojans couldn’t build any momentum off of that score, though, and it remained 3-1 at halftime. And 37 seconds into the second half, Centerville’s Ana Bair hit a high-arcing shot that bounced off the far post and in to make it 4-1.
With 33:09 to play, a pass into the center of the box bounced up high, and Centerville’s Alexis Hutchison beat the keeper to the ball and headed it in to make the score 5-1. And with 21:29 to go, a Centerville shot hit off of the crossbar, and Grace Geise picked up the rebound and knocked it home to make the score 6-1, which is where things ended.
“One thing about Centerville is that they play great team defense,” Rasey said. “They can have one defensive breakdown, and that’s probably one too many for them. They were able to lock it back down and frustrate our attack for pretty much the rest of the game.”
The Trojans finished the season 10-7-2, the most wins for the team in a season since going 11-7-1 in 2014 — a season that also ended with a loss to Centerville in the sectional title game. They also graduate six seniors — Garcia, Katie Minesinger, Meghan Fiessinger, Bailey Hess, Carly McGuirk and Holland Lively.
“We achieved a lot this year,” Rasey said. “I know we didn’t finish where we wanted to in the league (Greater Western Ohio Conference), but getting to 10 wins in this conference is no small feat. We got the fourth seed for a reason, because coaches respect the team we are and what we’re capable of. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do much with it tonight.”
“We’re graduating six seniors. Having Arianna as a four-year keeper and Bailey Hess as a three-year letterwinner, we have a lot of shoes to fill. But we’ve got some exciting young talent to look forward to. We’ve got a lot to build upon.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.