By Josh Brown
TROY — The Troy girls soccer team played the first few games of the season down a two-year starter on defense.
Wednesday night, they were missing Ciena Miller, the team’s leading scorer as a sophomore who missed her entire junior year with an injury.
Yet even though the Trojans have not been 100 percent all season long, they still turned in yet another solid performance Wednesday night in Greater Western Ohio Conference American League crossover play, blanking Stebbins 4-0 at Troy Memorial Stadium for their third straight victory via shutout.
“These girls are incredibly resilient,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said. “We’ve dealt with quite a bit of adversity already this year with injuries, and I’m really proud of the way the girls have rallied together as a team, with players stepping up in big ways to fill the voids. Which only reinforces the fact that once we are 100 percent, we can be scary dangerous.”
In truth, Troy (3-1, 2-0 GWOC American North Division) will not play a game at 100 percent all season long, with last year’s leading scorer Kenzie Evans going down for the year with an injury in the preseason. Still, the team’s only blemish is a 5-3 loss to perennial powerhouse Centerville in the season opener, and the Trojans have scored a total of 14 goals in their four games so far.
“This team can be dangerous offensively,” Rasey said. “This is the second game in a row where we’ve had teams trying to neutralize our speed by dropping extra players behind the ball. And their goalkeeper made probably four or five really amazing saves, and she certainly kept the score seeming closer than it was. But this team offensively, we’ve got a lot of special players.”
And the Trojans have done so without one of their biggest weapons, Kiyha Adkins, scoring any goals yet. Adkins, a senior, was the team’s second-leading returning scorer with 15 goals last season, tied with sophomore Julianna Williams with 35 total points last year. So far this year, though, Adkins has three assists and has been the primary target of those extra defenders being dropped back by the opposition.
Still, Adkins has found ways to create opportunities for Troy’s offense and put heavy pressure on opposing defenses. She was the victim of four of those five stellar saves by Stebbins keeper Audrey Paddon Wednesday night — as well as hammering one shot off the crossbar in the second half with the match already well in hand. And with 31:40 remaining in the first half, a run started by Adkins ended with Williams finding Chamber Browning open in the middle of the field, and Browning striking a 20-yard shot into the upper 90 of the net to give Troy a 1-0 lead.
And once that first goal went in, they came in bunches. Williams passed to Maddie Brewer, who dished to Erika Innes in front for a second score with 27:25 left in the half to make it 2-0, then Skylar Kirk got the ball to Megan Malott, who rifled a shot in with 22:52 left in the half to make it 3-0 — which was where things remained at halftime.
“As a coach, I’ll take balanced scoring over one or two players doing it all,” Rasey said. “And that’s one of the good things about this particular team. We have various players that can put the ball in the back of the net. And at the end of the day, players are stepping up and giving us a lift.”
And with 6:26 remaining in the game, Browning ripped in her second goal of the night, scoring on another assist from Williams to make the score 4-0.
“With Chamber tonight, her primary responsibility is to win a ton of balls as a defensive center-mid,” Rasey said. “If she’s able to get forward and score like she did tonight, that’s only going to make us even more dangerous — especially when we get some of our other players back on the field.”
Troy’s defense was never really tested on the night, as Paige Nadolny made three easy saves to post her third straight shutout. She made 12 saves in that season-opening loss to the Elks, and she has made a total of seven since.
Troy will get the chance to get some players healthy now with a week off before its next action — the Trojans travel to Trotwood on Sept. 5 for another GWOC American League crossover matchup.
“This was an experienced team already, with the number of seniors and returners we had coming back,” Rasey said. “Then you get young players the chance to get some valuable varsity minutes. It’s only going to help us in the long run.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.