By Josh Brown
TROY — Last year, Kelsey Walters helped Troy’s defense.
Given the chance to show her scoring capabilities, she was shut down in the season opener against Tippecanoe.
Wednesday, she more than made up for that.
The Trojan senior scored a hat trick Wednesday night against visiting Fairmont, including a pair of breakaway goals and a sweet finish on a corner kick, leading the Troy girls soccer team to a 4-0 victory over the Firebirds at Troy Memorial Stadium.
“I had a lot of frustration after the Tipp game,” said Walters of the 1-0 loss on Saturday. “I didn’t play the game I wanted to play. I’m not going to make excuses like first-game jitters or anything. You’ve got to be on every night. And I thought I redeemed myself tonight.”
And while it was something of a birthday gift for Troy girls coach Michael Rasey — whose birthday was Wednesday — he just laughed that fact off and discussed his girls’ accomplishments on the field instead.
“The most important thing tonight was that coming back after Saturday’s loss was big,” Rasey said. “It was important for us to get back on the winning track. Fairmont is a physical team that’s going to compete with a lot of teams. I said the other night that there are no nights off in the GWOC (Greater Western Ohio Conference), so we had to get back to winning fast.”
And Walters put the Trojans (1-1) on the board fast.
Bailey Hess sent a through ball forward, and Walters was able to stay onside despite the offside trap that the Firebirds were running on defense. One on one, the keeper never stood a chance as Walters beat her and gave Troy a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
It was the Trojans’ only real scoring chance of the first half, too, as Troy struggled to stay onside the rest of the way, being caught off 10 times on breakaway attempts. Still, Troy’s defense didn’t give away any chances, either, and the Trojans led 1-0 at the break.
“It wasn’t so much the trap,” Rasey said. “We just weren’t getting the passes we needed. Our passes weren’t crisp, and we were a little sloppy. In the second half, we cleaned it up. Our passes were more crisp, our runs were faster and better timed, and we just played better.”
And early in the second half, with 36:36 left in the game, Walters cashed in again. Troy earned a corner kick, and Sierra Besecker sent a perfect ball into the box that Walters put away to give Troy a little breathing room.
“That corner kick finish was very nice,” Rasey said. “That was something we put in in the preseason, and we executed it well. Sierra’s ball was nice, and Kelsey’s finish was great.”
Troy maintained control throughout the second half, never allowing the Firebirds to mount a counterattack. And with 14:30 to play, Alie Soutar crossed the ball to the center of the field in front of the Fairmont goal, and Kailyn Hatfield — who was covered by the only defender in the vicinity — dropped the ball to an open Jenna Stone, who ripped it past the Fairmont keeper to wrap the game up for the most part.
But with 24 seconds on the clock, Stone sent the ball forward to Walters for one final breakaway, and Walters converted to post a hat trick.
“It just feels nice to be back at forward,” Walters said. “I was on defense most of last year. I worked hard to show I could play offense, and it’s nice that coach Rasey noticed. I’m just thankful to have a good team and a good coach.”
“With an athlete like Kelsey, you’ve got to use her where she’s going to be most effective,” Rasey said. “We figured ourselves out on defense, and that allowed us to release her up front. She’s very dangerous. If other teams don’t scheme specifically for her, she’s going to get opportunities.”
Which she’s already showed the ability to make the most of.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
Troy’s Kelsey Walters speeds around a Fairmont defender Wednesday night. Walters scored a hat trick in Troy’s 4-0 victory at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Troy’s Lily Clouser goes up for a ball in the air Wednesday against Fairmont.
Troy’s Whitney Webb battles with a Fairmont defender Wednesday.
Troy’s Victoria Miller controls the ball against Fairmont Wednesday.
Troy’s Hannah Widener and a Fairmont player chase after the ball Wednesday.
Troy’s Bailey Dornbusch heads the ball Wednesday against Fairmont.