By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — The Troy boys soccer team played well throughout Tuesday’s Miami Valley League crossover matchup against Xenia.
Just not well enough to win — but not poorly enough to lose, either.
After Xenia erased a two-goal deficit in the second half, the Trojans retook the lead with less than five minutes to go — only to see the Buccaneers tie the score once again in the final two minutes as the teams fought to a 3-3 draw Tuesday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
In the end, missed chances early and mistakes on defense late ended up costing Troy (3-2-1, 2-0-1 MVL Miami Division) the win.
“We didn’t do what we were supposed to, and we got punished for it,” Troy coach Richard Phillips said. “We held onto the ball too long and were trying to do our own thing, not playing as a team, not playing together.”
It could end up haunting Troy in the division standings, too.
After Butler tied Stebbins last week, Troy’s tie against Xenia leaves three-time defending division champion Tippecanoe all alone atop the MVL’s Miami Division with a 3-0 record. In 2016, an early-season tie against Greenville cost the Trojans a share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division title after it also tied Tippecanoe in head-to-head play, and in 2017 a mid-season tie against Butler left Troy in a must-win situation when it faced the Red Devils, a game the Trojans ended up losing.
And though Troy controlled play for the first 30 minutes Tuesday against Xenia (3-1-1, 1-1-1 MVL Valley Division) and ended up outshooting the Buccaneers 16-6 in the game, it simply couldn’t crack the scoreboard early.
“It comes back to playing together,” Phillips said. “Our passing game was not there. It comes back to moving the ball, knocking the ball around and not just panicking, whacking it down and trying to kick it into the goal. If you work the ball, it’s going to go there for you.”
Late in the first half, though, a long pass sprung Ridwan Abdi on a breakaway, and he was tripped up from behind in the box, setting up a penalty kick. And with 6:58 left in the first half, Nathan Kleptz cashed that kick in, beating Xenia’s keeper to give the Trojans a 1-0 advantage — which was where things remained at halftime.
Troy got an insurance goal early in the second half, finally stringing together a series of passes and cashing in. Sam Kazmaier centered the ball to an open Elijah Williams in front of the goal, and Williams drove it home to make the score 2-0 with 33:22 remaining.
After that, though, Xenia — which hadn’t put together any truly dangerous offensive plays all night — fought back.
Isaac Jopson cashed in a corner kick with 31:30 left, redirecting it into the goal to cut the lead to 2-1. And with 10:22 to play, Noah Frisby split a pair of Troy defenders and ripped a shot into the upper 90 to tie the score at 2-2.
“That comes back to playing with confidence in the back,” Phillips said. “We had some mistakes there. If we play with confidence in the back and work together, don’t play scared … when you play scared, teams recognize that. And they come after you.”
Troy keeper Sean Miller made a clutch save with 7:00 to go to keep the game tied, and with 4:48 to play, Troy retook the lead. Gavin Marshall cut across the center of the field and ripped a 25-yarder with his left foot, hitting it just over the keeper, off the bottom of the crossbar and in to give Troy a 3-2 lead.
That celebration was short lived, though, as Xenia made one last push. And with 1:34 to go, Miller came out of the goal to cut off a Buccaneer breakaway, deflecting the ball away — but right to Jopson, who knocked a shot into the open net to tie the score at 3-3.
“If you hold back and don’t go after it, they see it — and take advantage of that,” Phillips said. “You can’t let other teams recognize weaknesses, because they will exploit that.”
Troy travels to Fairborn Sept. 10.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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