By Josh Brown
TROY — The hard work had already been done.
Wednesday’s matchup against Piqua was more about cleaning up loose ends — and that’s exactly what the Troy girls soccer team did.
The Trojans tallied two first-half goals on either rebounds or misclears by the defense Wednesday night, claiming an early lead and holding on for a 3-1 victory over the rival Indians on Senior Night at Troy Memorial Stadium, putting the finishing touches on their first outright division championship since 2013.
After an inexplicable and disappointing crossover loss to Xenia on Sept. 14 puts its back against the wall, Troy has gone 6-1-1 since then, including key head-to-head victories over Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division rivals Tippecanoe and Sidney, which tied against each other. The Trojans needed only to defeat Piqua — which they hadn’t lost to in more than a decade — to clinch the title outright.
“I’m proud of the effort and grit that the girls have put in to get us to this point,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said. “To win this division with a really good Sidney team and Tipp City team, it’s an awesome accomplishment, and we’re certainly proud of doing that.
“We didn’t back into this by any means. We had to have good results against really good teams, especially after losing the Xenia game before hitting the stretch that we did. We knew from that particular moment that it wasn’t over, and as long as we kept playing the way we were capable of playing, a moment like this was possible.”
The Trojans also knew that, if they wanted that moment, they had to take care of business against Piqua.
And they did just that.
After almost seven minutes of constant pressure to begin the game, Troy made the most of its first good opportunity. After the Piqua defense failed to clear the ball from there defensive end, Troy senior Hannah Widener jumped on a loose ball bouncing free just outside the box and whacked it at the goal before anyone could get to it. It went sailing inside the far post, and Troy led 1-0 with 33:18 to go in the first half.
The Trojans kept the heat on, though, with a series of corner kicks and never letting Piqua maintain possession for long. And with 22:20 to go in the half, Kenzie Evans hit a shot from in front that the Piqua keeper saved, but she couldn’t corral the rebound. Julianna Williams was there this time to clean things up, and Troy held a two-goal lead — which they maintained at the break.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Audrey Brumfield gave the Trojans a bit more insurance, booting a 35-plus-yard shot from the left side that arced high over the keeper and inside the far post to make it a 3-0 game. That’s where things remained, though, until Piqua’s Grace Forness scored a goal with 30 seconds remaining after Troy failed to clear an Indian corner kick.
And even though the Trojans were able to hold on, Rasey didn’t like the late push by Piqua.
“I’m happy we won the game, of course,” Rasey said. “We did enough to win. We certainly didn’t play as well as we are capable of, and we’re going to have to be a lot better as we head into the tournament if we’re going to make a deep run.”
Still, Troy improved to 10-4-1 overall and 9-1 GWOC American North with the win, and the senior class of Widener, Olivia Westfall, Sydney Short, Abby Innes and goaltender Molly Miller celebrated its first division title.
“This was a goal we set from Day One of the offseason,” Rasey said. “To put in the work and the time to get to this point, I couldn’t be more proud of the girls.”
Troy still has one more regular season game remaining at Wayne Saturday. The Trojans have a first-round bye in the sectional, waiting until Oct. 19 to play the winner between Northmont and Fairmont.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.