By Josh Brown
TROY — All Meghan Fiessinger remembered was the celebration that came after.
“I just remember everyone surrounding me and jumping on top of me,” the Troy junior said. “I don’t remember what I was thinking. I don’t even remember what happened.”
It was a moment everyone else will remember.
With 12:03 still remaining in the first overtime of a scoreless game, Bailey Dornbusch served a corner kick right into the center of the box in front of Fairborn’s goal, and Fiessinger hammered it home under the crossbar and into the net to give Troy (8-7-2) a thrilling 1-0 victory over the Skyhawks in the first round of the Division I sectional tournament Monday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
“It’s amazing. I’ve never had so much emotion at one time,” Fiessinger said. “I mean, for it to come in the tournament, in overtime, it’s amazing.”
“What a great way to score your first goal,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said.
Oddly enough, it was a sentiment — and a moment — that echoed the same 2011 Trojan team that Rasey compared this year’s team to after the final game of the regular season.
In 2011, the Trojans finished the regular season with a comparable 8-7-1 record. After a first-round tournament win over West Carrollton, Troy went into overtime against Wayne tied 2-2, only to have Marissa Mowery score her first goal and help the Trojans advance. That team went on to defeat Sidney for the sectional title and reach the district final, the first of two straight district appearances for the team.
“I told the girls that it reminds me of a few years ago, in 2011,” he said after the regular season finale, a win over Piqua. “That team had some struggles in the middle of the season but hit its stride heading into the tournament and ended up going to the district finals. This team has the talent to do the same thing. I see a lot of potential in these girls to do that again.”
To do so, the eighth-seeded Trojans will first have to get past No. 3 Centerville in a second-round matchup on Thursday in Centerville. The Elks defeated Troy 1-0 during the regular season.
Against the No. 12 Skyhawks (4-12-1) — a team the Trojans routed 7-1 exactly one week before — Troy had to work for it.
Troy had a steady stream of opportunities throughout the game, but Fairborn — which got senior goalkeeper Megan Miller, who did not play in that blowout loss, back for the game — and the defense were up to the challenge. Sierra Besecker hit a shot from 30 yards out that looked like it was headed over Miller’s head, but she reached up and made the save with 29 minutes left in the first half. A few minutes later, the Trojans had a corner kick that a pair of Skyhawk defenders made non-goalie saves on before the defense finally cleared the ball.
And with 21:45 left until halftime, Kelsey Walters blasted a shot that Miller could only deflect away, but the defense was able to clear the rebound before and Trojans could jump on it. More Troy shots went wide or high, but with two minutes left in the half Besecker had arguably Troy’s best chance, hitting one that banged off of the crossbar.
“We came out a little tight to start, had some unforced errors,” Rasey said. “It’s not that we weren’t ready to play, it was just the pressure of the moment. This was a game we felt like we should win, but give all the credit in the world to Fairborn. They had a few new wrinkles defensively, and Miller didn’t play against us a week ago. They didn’t have anything to lose tonight, and they played loose.
“With as many chances as we had throughout the night, though, I always felt like it was just a matter of time until one went in.”
That time wasn’t in the second half, though.
Besecker and Walters missed a few more shots throughout the early portion of the second half, and while Troy kept the pressure on, it couldn’t find a way to put the ball in. Fairborn, on the other hand, couldn’t mount anything that resembled a counter-offensive thanks to its focus on defending.
With 26:50 to go, though, Fairborn’s Kassie Alig got behind the Troy defense on a direct run, the best scoring chance for either team to that point. But Troy goalkeeper Arianna Garcia — who had had an easy night to that point thanks to the defense in front of her — remained focused and made a diving save on a tough shot to keep the game scoreless.
“Defensively, I thought we played well,” Rasey said. “The few chances they had, we were able to win the ball back and keep the pressure on. That’s the kind of effort it takes to win a tournament game.”
But for all their effort on offense, the Trojans could not put one on the board themselves. A cross by Leah Soutar into the box was hit too high by Whitney Webb with eight minutes left, Besecker had another near miss with five minutes to play — and the game went into overtime at 0-0.
Fiessinger put an end to the game with less than three minutes gone in that overtime, though. Dornbusch put the corner kick right where it needed to be, and Fiessinger hit it hard and high enough to get over the keeper’s head — but low enough to get under the crossbar.
Even if she only remembered the mobbing by her teammates after.
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure,” Fiessinger said of playing in a game that remained scoreless for 80 minutes. “Now that we’ve got this win under our belts, I think we’re ready to take on Centerville.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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