By Josh Brown
TROY — The Troy boys soccer team came into Saturday’s season opener hoping to figure out where it stood on the field.
“We asked questions out there in the second half,” Troy coach Richard Phillips said. “The first half, we didn’t play well at all. They came at us — and they were asking the questions.”
As it turned out, Carroll had the answers, too.
The Patriots got on the board on a corner kick less than four minutes into the matchup to take control, but the Trojans fought back in the second half — even having what appeared to be a game-tying goal waved off by an offsides call. Shortly after that, Carroll scored an insurance goal to put away a 2-0 victory over Troy Saturday night at Troy Memorial Stadium.
And even though the Trojans (0-1) were handed a 2-0 loss by Carroll last year to snap a seven-game winning streak to begin the season, Phillips didn’t feel like Saturday’s opener was a grudge match. Instead, he and the Trojans looked at it as a quality first game against a quality opponent.
“I think this is a good opener for us. That’s what we wanted — an opener like this,” Phillips said. “It’s a good gauge for us, gives us a good idea of where we are and what we need to address against teams like this.
“I don’t think it was a grudge match. It’s Dayton Carroll, and you want to play well against a good team like that. It gives us an incentive to go out and play well.”
Still, Carroll (1-0) — a district qualifier last season — controlled play for much of the first half and took advantage on the scoreboard quickly. Troy keeper Nicholas Griswold made a tough save, deflecting a high shot just over the crossbar to keep it out, but with 36:33 left until halftime the Patriots’ Travis Schmidt caromed the ensuing corner kick off of the keeper’s hands and in to put Carroll up 1-0.
That was where things remained at halftime, though, as Griswold and the Troy defense kept Carroll from finishing again. And the Trojans came out on fire in the second half — even driving home what looked like the game-tying goal with 37 minutes to play on a rebound. But the goal was waved off as the original shot was taken offsides, negating what happened on the rebound.
“We were asking questions in that second half. And when we thought we tied it up, that put us above a little bit,” Phillips said. “But it was an offsides call, and it was the right call.”
Troy continued to control play for roughly the first 20 minutes of the half, with its best chance to score coming with 27:20 to go. Jon Hipolito passed up to Connor Hubbell, who hit a diagonal pass to Gavin Marshall on the left side of the field. Marshall hit a shot that cut back across the field and got by the defense, but it rolled just wide right of the goal.
From there, Carroll seemed to regain the momentum, and with 7:39 to play, the Patriots finally built up to an insurance goal as Conner Osterholt cut across the middle of the field in open space and drove in a 25-yarder to make the score 2-0.
“(On the first goal) the keeper put his hand on it instead of diving on it, so it was a mistake we made,” Phillips said. “The second goal was a good goal. It was well struck, and it took the wind out of our sails.”
Even with a solid second half, though, Troy still struggled to create offensive chances, being outshot 10-1 in the game. Griswold finished making nine saves to keep the Trojans in it.
The Trojans played the game without junior Elijah Williams, the Trojans’ leading goal scorer last year with 16 and second-leading scorer overall with 35 total points. But Phillips didn’t allow that to be an excuse.
“He was hurt during training, but that’s something that you have to deal with,” Phillips said.
Still, Troy played a strong game against a tough opponent.
“It was a match that, for us, exposes some things in different areas, but it also helps us in different areas, as well” Phillips said. “Matches like this, you go out there and play hard, it helps us confidence-wise. We came out and played well in that second half.”
Troy hosts Lima Shawnee Tuesday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.