By Josh Brown
TROY — After Troy boys soccer coach Richard Phillips watched his Trojans win for the 300th time in his career, he both reflected on the past and the achievements of his current team.
Tuesday night, this year’s Trojans looked as strong as Phillips’ strongest teams.
Troy (7-0, 5-0 Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division) — which had its first undefeated regular season last year — continued a number of streaks, posting its seventh straight shutout and winning its seventh straight to begin this season, dominating Xenia in GWOC American League crossover play in a milestone 6-0 victory Tuesday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
“It’s good to get there,” Phillips said. “Over the years, the players that we’ve had, the good times that we’ve had, the times we’ve struggled … we still stuck with it. And it’s special tonight for these kids that we have to get a shutout and go 7-0. It’s good.
“It’s all about, over the years, the kids that we’ve had. Getting to watch them play and mature. It’s as good as it gets. It’s always an honor.”
The past two seasons have gone especially well for Phillips’ Trojans. Last year, the team went 14-0-2 in the regular season and tacked on two more victories in the postseason before finally falling in the Division I sectional championship game.
And Troy hasn’t slowed down this year either — despite losing 11 players to graduation. The team has yet to allow a goal this season, outscoring opponents 28-0 in its seven wins. Tuesday’s win was also the Trojans’ 10th straight regular season win and 26th straight regular season game without a loss.
“They’re special,” Phillips said of this year’s team. “They work hard, they work together, and they listen. That’s all you can ask of them. They listen, and they do what you ask them to do. At times when they stray a bit, we pull those reins in and they come back.
“When they cross that yellow line, it’s all up to them. I’ve always said that. The player with the ball dictates how the game goes. When you get the ball, you have the opportunity to dictate the game. When you cross that yellow line, you’re in charge.”
Tuesday night, the Trojans certainly were.
Every decision Troy made seemed to be the right one, every pass seemed to find its mark — and there was little Xenia’s defense could do to stop the Trojans. Early on, the Buccaneers (2-5, 1-4 GWOC American South) had to settle for trying to slow the Trojans down, packing the backfield with defenders in an attempt to bend but not break.
It worked for a while, with the Trojans posting a few near misses early. But with 23:56 to go in the first half, Alex Bridge and Bailey Webb worked the ball up the field by passing back and forth to each other, with Bridge finally dishing to Webb right on the doorstep of Xenia’s goal for an wide-open score to make it 1-0 Troy.
And with 14:13 to go in the half, Connor Hubbell sent a long through ball up to Elijah Williams, who took the ball in stride, made one deke to beat the goalkeeper and tapped it in to make it a 2-0 game, which was where things remained at halftime.
It was one of three goals on the night by Troy on passes of 40 yards or more.
“They gave us a chance to do that,” Phillips said. “They never pressured us on the ball, never pressured the ball, and that gave us opportunities to knock the ball around.”
Barely more than two minutes into the second half came arguably Troy’s prettiest goal of the night. Williams boomed a 50-yard pass from beyond midfield up to a streaking Webb, who split his way between two defenders to get a touch on the ball. The Xenia keeper tried to come out and cut off a shot attempt before Webb could get to the ball, but the Troy junior got there first and gave the ball the slightest of nudges, redirecting it past the keeper and in for his second goal with 37:42 left to play.
Webb hit the crossbar less than two minutes later, missing his chance for a hat trick. But Troy kept scoring as Hubbell set up a goal by Joey Sheehan with 30:28 to go in the game. With 20:16 remaining, Kasheen Perdue jumped on a loose ball in front and ripped a shot in, and with 16:31 to go, Christian May cashed in another long, direct play with a goal to cap off the scoring.
Troy’s defense, meanwhile, didn’t give the Bucs any room on the night, with Xenia taking its first shot of the game with 25:30 remaining — a shot that was easily saved by Nicholas Griswold — and the Trojans’ shutout streak continued.
“There’s a pride that they have in that,” Phillips said. “They want to keep a clean sheet. This far into the season, they want to keep it for as long as they can.”
And as for whether Phillips wants to start on the next 300 now?
“No, no. One game at a time,” he said. “Our next match is at Carroll Saturday. That will be a test for us.”
Because for Phillips, it’s not about the personal milestones or the winning streaks and league championships. It’s always been about teaching the kids how to play.
“All I’m asking is to go out there and play well. To play hard, to play with passion and integrity — and play for the love of the game,” Phillips said.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.