By Luke Severt
For the Troy Daily News
TROY — It was an unusual start for the Troy girls soccer team on Monday, in a match where they defeated Northmont 2-0 at Troy Memorial Stadium.
After the referee whistled to start the match, senior Kiyha Adkins turned and fired the ball directly out of bounds. There was another whistle. This time, he signaled a substitution.
As senior Kenzie Evans walked off the field, tears streaming down her face, the crowd at Troy Memorial Stadium erupted with a standing ovation in her honor.
Evans, a two-year captain on the team who ranks in the top 25 in program history in both goals and assists, suffered a serious knee injury in a preseason scrimmage against Fairmont on Aug. 8, and soon after, she learned that her senior season had ended before it had even begun.
“We knew we wanted to do something for Kenzie,” said head coach Michael Rasey. “She’s been a special player for our program, one of the best the Troy girls have ever had. Once I knew that she was cleared to step on the field we knew we were going to do something special for her. I’m appreciative of the Northmont team to let her have that moment, and I’m glad she was able to step on the field one last time as a Trojan before going off next year.”
The words “thank you Kenzie for a great four years” boomed from the P.A. system across the stands as Evans reached the sidelines, embracing her teammates while being overcome with emotions.
“It meant the world to me,” said Evans about the moment. “I hadn’t been on a soccer field since the beginning of August, so I kept telling everyone how weird it was to be on it again. My teammates really helped me, and made me feel like I was supposed to be out there too. They were really excited for me, and that really meant a lot.”
According to Evans, it was the highlight of her senior year, yet she wasn’t the only one with a similar moment on a special night for the Trojan senior girls.
With 30:29 left in the second half, senior captain Lily Clouser booted a direct kick from the far sideline. The ball travelled about 30 yards through the air before deflecting off of the top right corner of the woodwork and into the net as the Trojans took a 1-0 lead.
The next few seconds were moments of shock, as Clouser attempted to truly comprehend what had just happened.
“I honestly had no idea what was happening,” said Clouser. “I was not planning on scoring, I just ran up and kicked the ball. As soon as I scored, I could barely even process what was happening, I was just so stunned that it actually went in.”
A four-year varsity defender, she only had one goal on her career entering the night, scored as she was playing offense in a blowout match against West Carrollton earlier this season.
“Being a defender, you don’t think that you’re ever going to score. I take those kicks to set other girls up to score. I never thought it was a possibility, for me to score on senior night. It was the highlight of my career.”
Seniors were the theme of the night on Monday, and it reflected on the field as well. With 10 minutes left in the contest, senior Ciena Miller redirected a deflected shot into the back of the net for an insurance goal to take the 2-0 lead that would carry the Trojans to victory.
“It’s tough to put into words, to be honest with you,” said Rasey about what this year’s seniors have meant to his program. “A lot of these girls have been with me for three or four years at this point, and it’s fitting for a team like this to play like they did tonight on their Senior Night. I wouldn’t have expected anything less. Their effort tonight was excellent, they wanted to win, and it was a great game for a special group of players.”
It was the first time the Trojans had taken the field since Wednesday, when they suffered a heartbreaking loss in an intense contest to determine the Greater Western Ohio Conference American League North champions against Tippecanoe. However, Rasey was very proud of the way his team responded.
“I’m proud of the way the girls responded after the loss to Tipp, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from this group,” said Rasey. “They’re tough, and they know that they have some season ahead of them. I’m proud of the way that they came out and beat a pretty good Northmont team tonight.”
Troy will be seeded fourth in the upcoming postseason tournament. The Trojans will host seventh-seeded Miamisburg — who defeated them 2-0 earlier this season — in the first round of the playoffs at home on Oct. 16.
“I’m looking forward to the chance to play Miamisburg again. It’s sort of a redemption game for us, and we get to play it at home,” said Rasey.
The Trojans know their regular season is coming to a close, with an away match at Piqua on Wednesday being the finale. They also know they have some very crucial games in the upcoming weeks, matches that could end their season.
But for now, they are going to celebrate their Senior Night victory, and the seniors themselves.
“It was the best,” said Clouser. “I feel like I’m going to remember this forever.”