By Josh Brown
TROY — Having seen better from his team already this season, Troy boys soccer coach Richard Phillips did not enjoy what he saw Saturday night.
Knowing what his Trojans have in front of them made it even more frustrating.
After beginning the season on a seven-game winning streak, Troy dropped its second of its last three games, giving up two goals in an uninspired first half and, despite playing much stronger in the second half, coming up short in a 2-1 loss to the visiting Wayne Warriors Saturday night at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Troy fell to 7-2 with the loss, while Wayne improved to 4-6-1. The Warriors lost to defending Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division champion Tippecanoe earlier this week — with the Trojans set to face the Red Devils a week from Tuesday, when they take on division rival Butler. Currently Troy, Butler and Tippecanoe are all tied atop the division.
“Overall, I was not pleased with the effort tonight. Especially going into the teeth of our schedule,” Phillips said. “We have Butler coming up, we have Tipp coming up. If we continue playing like this, we’re going to have some problems.”
Unfortunately for Troy, the first half proved to be the difference in the game.
The Trojans did not create many opportunities on offense in the first half, and when they did it was usually cut short by an offsides call. Wayne, meanwhile, kept the ball in Troy’s defensive end for the majority of the half, only creating one truly dangerous chance — but cashing it in. with 30:30 left in the half, the Warriors crossed the ball from the right side of the field all the way to the left, and then from the left to a waiting Jaden Scarpelli, who redirected it in to give Wayne a 1-0 lead.
And with 6:43 left in the half, the Warriors picked up a fluke insurance goal. Nate Johnson hit a shot from 30 yards out and Troy keeper Nick Griswold — who entered the game with a .910 save percentage, the highest in the GWOC American North among goalkeepers with more than 25 saves — moved to catch the ball at eye level, only to have it slip through his hands and go into the goal to put Wayne up 2-0 at the break.
“That’s just a concentration thing,” Phillips said of the play. “That’s the main thing as a goalkeeper. You need to maintain concentration for the entire match. He lost a bit of concentration there, and it hurt him.
“We didn’t have the spine of the team in that first half. We let a few players work, but the rest just didn’t do the things we needed to do in the first half.”
Things did change in the second half, though.
Troy looked like a completely different team, putting heavy pressure on the Wayne goal immediately. One minute in, the Trojans had a direct kick just outside the box, missing it high, and at the 37-minute mark, a corner kick led to a massive scrum in front, with the goalie and a defender both deflecting shots before the keeper finally covered the ball up. Three minutes later, Elijah Williams had a breakaway attempt but was knocked off the ball from behind with no call, and later a cross by Bailey Webb in front led to a massive scrum with numerous trips and collisions but again no whistles — or shots.
Finally, though, the Trojans got on the board with 24:14 left in the game. Webb crossed the ball to Nathan Kleptz, who redirected it but right at Wayne keeper Simon Oberkrom. He couldn’t control the rebound, though, and Williams was able to jump on it and punch it home to get Troy back to within one score.
The Trojans had plenty of chances throughout the rest of the game, though — the best coming with five minutes to play as Williams tried to make a cross on a breakaway opportunity, only to have Oberkrom cover the ball up — but they simply couldn’t finish. Even in the final 10 seconds, Troy had the ball in Wayne’s defensive third working for shots, but the Warrior defense blocked every attempt to put the ball on net.
“That’s the way we needed to play for a full 80 minutes,” Phillips said of the second half. “We just didn’t get that performance. We put in a better performance in the second half, but overall, the performance was not good. I was not happy with it.”
Troy hosts Butler Tuesday in a critical division matchup.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.