Unbeaten Troy tops Sidney: Trojans set up battle for MVL lead next week

TROY — The Troy boys soccer team passed both of its big tests this week to remain undefeated.

The Trojans know their biggest test is yet to come.

Five different Trojans scored goals in Thursday night’s battle of unbeatens as Troy (6-0) jumped on Sidney early and pulled away for a 5-2 victory at Troy Memorial Stadium, a win that sets up a battle for the Miami Valley League lead next week against defending Division II state champion and four-time defending division champion Tippecanoe.

Earlier in the week, Troy beat 3-0-1 MVL Miami Division rival Butler on the road 1-0, and Sidney was 4-0-1 and leading the MVL Valley Division entering Thursday night’s play.

Tuesday, Troy will be on the road again taking on the Red Devils, who have only given up one goal in winning six straight to start the season. Since Tippecanoe joined Troy’s division, the Trojans have gone 0-3-1 against the Devils and finished second in the standings behind them the past four years.

“Those were the two best teams we’ve seen so far,” Troy coach Richard Phillips said. “With (Tippecanoe) coming up, we have to be physically and mentally ready. And they know it. We’re going to a state champ’s home, and they’ll be ready for us. It should be a good test for us and a good match on both sides.”

Troy has been equally impressive this season, though, posting five straight shutouts before giving up its first two goals of the season Thursday against Sidney.

Even then, though, the Trojans never looked like they were in trouble scoring two goals in the match’s first seven minutes and, after Sidney cut the lead to 2-1, running off three more goals to put the match away before Sidney notched another late score on a 40-yard direct kick.

“There are times where they show some brilliance, and there are times where they stay flat,” Phillips said. “As a unit, we have to continue playing at the highest level we can play all the time. We cannot have that dropoff. Any given evening, things can change for us.

“We don’t want to play from behind. We want to play on our front foot all the time — and tonight, we got on them early. When you can do that to teams early, their head goes down a little bit. Right now, we’re riding on that, but we still have to be ready to play regardless of who we’re playing.”

And the Trojans’ league-leading scoring duo of Gavin Marshall and Jon Hipolito led the way Thursday, getting things going from the start. Hipolito sent a through-ball up to Marshall, who raced past a trio of defenders, beat the goalie and, as the ball looked like it was heading out of bounds, gave it one final tap-in to give Troy a 1-0 lead with 38:21 still remaining in the first half.

Marshall then dished out the first of his three assists, sending in a corner kick that Jaden Williams punched in with 33:06 on the clock to give Troy a two-goal lead. And, after Sidney’s Braden Guinther scored a goal at the 27:04 mark, Hipolito and Marshall worked the ball through the midfield and to Winston Walton on the left side, who hammered in a shot to make the score 3-1 at 23:35 — and that’s where things remained at the half.

With 30:20 remaining in the match, freshman Robert Cox took a cross from Hipolito and scored to give Troy some added insurance, and with 16:09 left, Hipolito and Marshall worked a give-and-go, with Hipolito driving home the finish to make the score 5-1. Guinther added his second goal on a direct kick with 13:03 to play, but it was too little, too late.

Troy’s Sean Miller made two saves and Sam Westfall made one in goal, with each allowing one goal. Sidney keeper Clay Boberg made 15 saves on 20 shots, while Ben Savage made one save.

And even though the Trojans are focused on Tuesday’s matchup at Tippecanoe right now, they know that — unlike most seasons — they haven’t seen the last of Sidney, either.

“The thing is we play each other twice,” Phillips said. “Regardless of how we played tonight or the result we had tonight, it comes back to we have to play again, and we go to their place (on Oct. 13). So we take this and prepare for the next one.”