By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy Christian boys soccer coach Ryan Zeman wasn’t expecting the request he got before Wednesday’s game.
After he accepted, it was hard not to expect what followed.
With the entire game played under a running clock as per the opposing coach’s request, with no stoppages for goals, cards or anything, the eighth-seeded Eagles still scored six goals in the game’s first 20 minutes, coasting to a 12-0 victory over No. 22 National Trail in the opening round of the Division III sectional tournament Wednesday at Eagle Stadium.
And while the Blazers knew they were entering the game undermanned, with only 12 players able to take the field, the Eagles (10-6-1) were able to utilize their entire bench and substitute freely from the start.
“I’ve never had that happen before,” Zeman said of the running clock request before the game. “We knew they lost 15-0 to Newton last week, and Newton beat us 2-1 early this season. So we kind of expected the game could be like this. It was a good win, but it was just a tough game.”
For Troy Christian, it was simply reaping the benefits of a solid regular season with a quality seed — but the difficulty will ramp up considerably in the second round of the tournament. The Eagles will host No. 9 Springfield Catholic Central at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“It feels good to get a tournament win. It’s been a couple years since we had one,” Zeman said. “We got a good seed this year. We were the No. 7 in 2013, and then last year we went 7-9. So everything turned around a bit this year. We lost to a couple of teams that we should’ve beat, but we’ve had a good year, and this was a good win.”
It certainly was a convincing one.
Before one minute had even passed, the Eagles already had taken the lead. Jon Slone passed to Colt Tanner for an open shot, but his attempt banged off of the far post — and right onto the foot of Kevin Smith, who drove home the rebound to make it 1-0 Troy Christian with 39:28 left in the first half. A mere two minutes later, Smith put home his second goal of the night, taking a feed from Slone right in front of the goal and easily beating the Blazers’ keeper to make it a 2-0 game.
National Trail goalie Tyler Browning did everything he could to stem the tide, making impressive saves on breakaway attempts by both Slone and Andrew Strait — two of his 20-plus saves on the night. But there was only so much he could do, and with 30:09 left in the half, Slone put home a breakaway attempt to make it a three-goal game.
That lead doubled within the next 10 minutes, too. Slone fought through a triple team in front of the Blazer goal and still was able to beat the keeper to make it 4-0 at the 27:21 mark, then Tanner ripped in a shot from 25 yards out at the 25:40 mark. Tanner then crossed the ball and, after one Eagle took a shot that the keeper saved but couldn’t wrap up, Grant Conklin jammed in the rebound to make it 6-0 with 20:55 left in the half — and that’s the way it remained at the break as Troy Christian keeper Jackson Kremer only touched the ball once, a one-hop throw-in by Trail directly to him.
Things didn’t change in the second half, either, as the Eagles dominated play while substituting freely. Tom Null scored a goal with 35:12 left in the game, then Tanner finished off a cross with 32:45 left to make it 8-0. Conklin got his second goal of the game with 21:10 left, then Riley Hall made it a double-digit lead with 15:18 to go.
With 10:55 left, James Bryant crossed the ball to Trent Bianco, who tapped it in for an easy score, and then with 9:48 left Tristan Miller put an end to the scoring with a goal that made it 12-0 Eagles.
Miller actually ensured his goal was the last on the defensive end, as well. National Trail made its first real offensive push of the game with roughly five minutes left and were able to catch the Troy Christian keeper out of position after a rebound — but Miller alertly got in position and made a non-goalie save, deflecting the ball away with 4:30 to go to preserve the shutout.
“Everybody got in, and most probably played more than they have all season, which is always good,” Zeman said. “This was a good team win, and hopefully we can build some momentum out of this for Saturday when we face Catholic Central.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.