By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TIPP CITY — The Troy girls soccer team scored a thrilling goal in the final 30 seconds of the first half to retake the lead.
Division-leading Tippecanoe responded with two goals in a three-minute stretch of the second half to claim its first lead of the game.
The Trojans answered back one final time to even things up late — but the Red Devils kept them from climbing back on top again.
Wednesday night’s matchup proved to be just one more back-and-forth slugfest between the two evenly-matched rivals, as Troy and Tippecanoe battled to a 3-3 draw in Miami Valley League Miami Division play at Tipp City Park, allowing the Devils to keep their lead in the division.
In fact, the Devils (8-2-3, 6-0-1 MVL Miami) took sole possession of the division lead, as second-place Butler tied Fairborn 0-0, dropping them to 5-0-2 in the MVL Miami standings. Troy, meanwhile, moved to 8-3-3 overall and 5-1-1 in division play, with a 1-0 loss to Butler back on Sept. 18 the difference for the Trojans.
As for Wednesday night’s head-to-head matchup, neither coach was particularly surprised that it ended up being so even.
“There’s still an outside chance things can bounce our way. But we knew winning tonight was a must,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said. “But in typical Tipp-Troy fashion, we’re even teams, and the score reflects the evenness of it. These are two highly-talented teams that wanted it badly, and it’s what I would expect out of a Troy-Tipp game.”
“On paper, I thought we were pretty even. So the outcome is probably what it should have been,” Tippecanoe coach Brandon Baker said. “It was great to see our girls battle to get back, tie it and take the lead. It was a battle tonight for everybody.
“No matter what the records are, it’s going to be a battle for 80 minutes and come down to the very end.”
Over the past decade, that’s certainly been the case. Since 2009, Troy had a 5-4-1 lead in the series entering Wednesday’s play, with Tippecanoe having won three of the last four, including a 1-0 win at Troy last year.
The Trojans got off to a fast start Wednesday, though, as Julianna Williams put Troy on top 1-0 in the game’s first six minutes. Williams cut off a clearing attempt by Tippecanoe’s goalie in the box, intercepting it, cutting across the center of the field and scoring with 34:07 remaining in the first half.
Tippecanoe answered, though, as Hannah Rittenhouse stole the ball in Troy’s defensive end and dished to Jaila Fletcher, who carried it past the remaining Trojan defenders and ripped in a shot that Troy’s goalie got a hand on but couldn’t control, trickling in to tie the score at 1-1 with 7:17 until the break.
In that half’s final minute, though, the Trojans retook the lead. Anna Burghardt sent a long pass into the box to an open Williams, who deposited it into the goal to make the score 2-1 Troy with 24.7 seconds on the clock — and that’s where things remained at halftime.
Midway through the second half, the Devils changed the game again.
With 19:09 remaining in the game, Troy couldn’t clear out a Tippecanoe corner kick, and Kenna Smith jumped on the loose ball to tie the score again at 2-2. And with 16:42 on the clock, Maddie Moran — the third Red Devil that came off the bench to score on the night — hammered in the go-ahead goal to give Tippecanoe its first lead at 3-2.
“We do a good job as a team, playing as a team and finding people,” Baker said. “We got all three goals tonight from bench players tonight. The kids battled and didn’t stop, which was good.”
With 14:54 to play, Troy got one final goal, though. Chamber Browning brought the ball up the sideline and crossed it in to Maddie Brewer, whose initial shot was turned away by Tippecanoe’s goalie. Brewer followed her own shot, though, driving in the rebound to tie the score at 3-3 — and neither defense allowed any dangerous scoring opportunities the rest of the way.
“We left a few goals on the pitch tonight,” Rasey said. “But we battled hard. This team has had no quit all year long. We’ve come back from down one goal a number of times, and this was no exception. And Tipp’s a good team. Their record is what it is for a reason. We knew it was going to be a tough battle, and we continued to fight hard and were fortunate enough to get the equalizing goal late.”
Tippecanoe still has a pair of tough MVL games remaining, traveling to Sidney Monday and hosting Butler Wednesday to decide the final division standings before finishing the regular season Saturday at West Clermont.
“It was a great game, but now we’ve got two tough ones,” Baker said. “We’re going to have to be ready to go and take care of business against Sidney and Butler.”
Troy, meanwhile, travels to Stebbins on Monday for one final crossover matchup before hosting division rival Piqua Wednesday on Senior Night to finish the regular season.
“We know we’ve got to finish next week strong,” Rasey said. “We can’t overlook those two teams.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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