By Josh Brown
TROY — All it took was one thing finally going right.
And then another. And another.
After falling behind early against a talented Sidney girls soccer team, it appeared like Troy’s six-game winless streak would continue. But the Trojans were able to build some momentum and tie the score right before halftime, then they rode that momentum and took control early in the second half, battling back to claim a 2-1 victory over the Yellowjackets Wednesday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
“This was a huge win for our program,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said. “After the results we’ve had recently, to come out and score two goals against them — Sidney knocked off the No. 4 team in the state (Springboro, 1-0) just two nights ago — for our girls to come out with the emotion that we did, to go down early and to fight back to win, my hats off to the girls. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Entering the game, the Trojans (5-7-2, 2-0-2 GWOC North) had not won since Sept. 16, a 7-0 victory over Greenville to kick off division play. That was a span of six games that included 1-1 ties against both Trotwood and Butler in division play, narrow 1-0 lossed to Centerville, Bellbrook and Miamisburg and, most recently, a 3-0 loss at Beavercreek on Monday.
“We can compete with anyone. Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of close losses and ties in the last couple of weeks,” Rasey said. “We’ve had competitive results, but we’ve ended up on the wrong side of them.”
And early in Wednesday’s matchup, the Trojans found themselves fighting from behind once again as Sidney’s Emily Weisenmayer cashed in a breakdown in Troy’s defensive end, scoring a goal to make it 1-0 Sidney a mere 5:06 into the game.
The Yellowjackets (10-4-1, 2-2 GWOC North) kept the pressure on, as well, firing a pair of shots high with 25 minutes left in the half. Troy goalkeeper Maddie Innes then made a save on a free kick at the 22:50 mark, and with 20 minutes left in the half, Sidney’s Adrianne Miller ripped a shot from directly in front of the goal that Innes saved on one hop.
Troy began to fight back late in the half, though. Kelsey Walters put pressure on the Sidney goalkeeper on a long direct pass, accidentally running into her as the ball was sent too far. Then Sierra Besecker got some space in front of the goal with 7:00 left in the half, hitting it barely wide right.
Following a thrown-in by Walters into the box, though, Mackenzie Evans hit a shot from point-blank range that Sidney’s keeper made a diving catch on — however, she caught the ball behind the goal line, and the sideline referee immediately signaled for a score to make it 1-1 with 5:14 left until the break, and that’s the way the score remained at the half.
“One of our sparks was Mackenzie Evans,” Rasey said. “She came in and played her tail off today, and in a big moment, too. That goal was a huge lift.
“We told the girls at half that we had to forget the first 20 minutes of the game. Because we did, we looked asleep, we played with zero emotion — even the stands were quiet. But once we started winning some of those 50-50 balls, then it started to build confidence for the whole team. Then we started connecting passes. Then we started making overlapping runs. And it just built and built from there.”
The Trojans held onto that momentum, and early in the second half they took the lead. With a throw-in in Sidney’s defensive end, Walters threw it directly in front of the box. The Jackets failed to clear, and Sierra Besecker jumped on the loose ball, blasting it home with her left foot to put Troy up 2-1 with 34:33 left in the game.
“Sierra’s game-winner was just perfectly placed,” Rasey said. “That was a great shot. And we talked in practice yesterday about Kelsey’s throw-ins and finishing those, because the way she can throw them into the box like that, they’re as good as a corner kick.”
With 18:00 left, the Trojans fought off a Sidney flurry to keep the lead. Innes and a Sidney player both collided going up for a ball in the air, but three different Trojan defenders made non-goalie saves while she recovered to keep the score tied, deflecting the loose ball and finally clearing it before it could be settled for a legitimate shot.
And with 9:00 to go, Weisenmayer had a chance to tie the score, but her 20-yard shot sailed just wide right. Troy took the ball the other way, though, and Evans fired off a shot that Sidney’s keeper made a save on with 7:00 to play.
With 5:27 to go, Innes took a shot from a Sidney player as she went to intercept a cross — the third tough hit she’d taken in the game, and the fourth Troy player to leave the game with an injury. Molly Miller came in to replace her and Walters was moved back to defense to lend a hand, but Miller never had to face a shot as Troy kept play mostly in Sidney’s end.
“Hopefully we can hit our stride now heading into these last two games, finish the season strong and keep that momentum going into the tournament,” Rasey said.
Troy travels to Fairborn Monday before finishing the regular season Oct. 14 at home against rival Piqua.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.