By Josh Brown
TROY — Even after the game ended, Tippecanoe’s Hannah Kramer didn’t really have an answer when asked why she decided to take a 35-yard shot when she did.
“Usually, I don’t shoot from far out like that,” the Red Devil senior defender said. “No one was on me, and … I don’t know, I just shot it and hoped it went in, or at least someone followed it in. It was just meant to be, I guess.”
Kramer’s surprise bomb was on the mark, arcing its way over Troy’s leaping goalie’s head, slipping out of her outreached hands and into the net midway through the first half for the game’s only score as Tippecanoe knocked off defending division champion Troy 1-0 to clinch a share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division title Wednesday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
The shot came at the 27:17 mark of the first half, seemingly out of nowhere. With both teams trading possession in the midfield and both with scattered scoring chances here and there, Kramer’s shot seemed like an innocent long pass toward the goal. But as it sailed through the air, it became clear that it was going to be big trouble for the Trojans.
Troy’s goalie got both hands on it, but the ball was coming in too hard and fast to wrap up and it slipped out of her hands, under the crossbar and into the net behind her.
“At first, I thought it was outside the net,” Kramer said. “I don’t score many goals usually because I’m on defense. But I shot it and hoped for the best and, luckily, scored the winning goal. It feels great.”
“I thought the goalie had it,” Tippecanoe coach Brandon Baker said. “Sometimes you’ve got to be lucky and get that bounce. (Kramer) just had a good hit on it. We didn’t have many opportunities, so we had to take that chance.”
With the win — its 10th straight — Tippecanoe improved to 12-1-1 overall and 9-0 in the GWOC American North with one division game to go, while Troy — which lost the third of its last four — fell to 9-5 overall and 8-1 in division play. The Devils ensured themselves at least a share of the division title, their second since entering the GWOC three years ago, and they need only a win against Butler on Oct. 10 to win the division outright.
“We were the first Tippecanoe team to win a GWOC title my sophomore year (when the Devils entered the GWOC American North Division). I was happy to be part of that,” Kramer said. “Now that it’s my senior year, it’s great to be GWOC champs again.”
The Trojans, last year’s outright champions, now need to defeat Piqua that same night and an Aviator win to get a share of the title.
“This game was everything we thought it was going to be,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said. “Two rivals going at it for a chance at a league championship — that’s why you play high school soccer, for this environment. And actually, this was the best we’ve played in a few games, and unfortunately, the final score doesn’t always reflect the actual game itself.”
And though both teams’ defenses kept scoring chances to a minimum, the Trojans had three of them in the final 16 minutes of the game — and Tippecanoe turned away each one.
The first came with 15:38 to play as Red Devil goalkeeper Lauren Robbins won the race to a through-ball, as she and Troy’s Chamber Browning slid into each other and collided while chasing the ball but Robbins was able to collect it and prevent a shot.
The most dangerous came with 7:40 remaining, as Troy’s Kiyha Adkins sped around one Tippecanoe defender and then another, needing only to beat Robbins to score. Adkins got her shot off, too, but a diving Robbins got just enough of her fingertips on the ball to slow it down enough for a Devil defender to sweep it away, inches in front of the goal line to preserve the lead.
And the final one came with less than 10 seconds on the clock as the ball landed in a huge scrum in front of Tippecanoe’s goal — a situation similar to Troy’s game-winning goal in last year’s victory at Tippecanoe. But a shot never came out of the pile-up, and the Devils celebrated once the clock finally ran out.
“You don’t know where that ball is going to go,” Baker said. “But Lauren did a great job back there all night protecting the goal. We’ve been playing very well defensively. Our girls just gel and play well together. We haven’t given up a goal since Aug. 29 (nine straight games).”
Robbins finished with four saves on the night to post her sixth full shutout of the season.
Since 2010, Troy holds a 4-3-1 edge in the series, with the road team now winning the last three meetings. Troy will now host Senior Night Monday against Northmont before finishing the regular season at Piqua.
“I’m proud of the way the girls battled, all the way down to the final two seconds with an opportunity to score a goal,” Rasey said. “It didn’t work out, but I couldn’t ask for any more as a coach, to play the way the girls did tonight and not let being down a goal affect their play.
“We played well enough to win, and it’s upsetting that as hard and as well as the girls played, the final score doesn’t reflect that.”
Tippecanoe, meanwhile, will take aim at an outright title on Oct. 10 at Butler before finishing the regular season Oct. 13 at home against West Clermont.
“He’s got a great team over there, and we were prepared and ready to go,” Baker said. “It may not have been a pretty win, but we got a win. And it’s great to go into Butler next week and try to win the division outright. It’ll be good for momentum going into the tournament.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.