TROY — After an agonizing lead up to the season where no one knew if anyone would get to play at all, the Troy boys soccer team hosted a postseason game Monday.
And the Trojans weren’t ready for it to be over.
“We just didn’t want it to end here tonight,” Troy coach Richard Phillips said.
Gavin Marshall — the Miami Valley League’s leading scorer during the regular season — posted his sixth hat trick of the year and the Trojans closed the game with four unanswered goals as sixth-seeded Troy defeated No. 13 Springfield 6-2 in the opening round of the Division I sectional tournament Monday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Troy, which improved to 15-2 with the win, advanced and will face No. 16 Stebbins — which the Trojans beat 5-0 in a regular season game back on Sept. 17 — in the second round. Springfield, meanwhile, finished the season 2-13-2.
And even though the Wildcats came into the night with only two wins on the year, Phillips knew that, with them playing a Greater Western Ohio Conference-only schedule, that record could be deceiving.
“We just needed to play. Don’t give them time to hit, don’t give them time to run off the ball. And that’s what we did,” he said. “Seeing these guys and knowing they came from the GWOC, we just wanted to show up. And we showed up and played hard and got the result we wanted.”
Springfield was also the first non-MVL team the Trojans had played all season, but last Thursday’s matchup against undefeated Tippecanoe proved to be a good tune-up heading into tournament play, even though Troy ended up losing the hard-fought match.
“Tipp was a lot of emotion, as well,” Phillips said. “The beatdown we took in the first match, we didn’t want that to happen again. And we lost, but we played a much better match in the second game. So we just wanted to play as hard as we possibly could and move on to the next one.”
And, like in that second matchup against Tippecanoe, Troy was able to get on the board early. Marshall carried the ball past the Springfield defense, stopped and let the goalie dive forward then knocked it into the open net to give Troy a 1-0 lead with 37:39 still to go in the first half.
The Wildcats quickly tied the score, though, with Dylan Patel heading in a corner kick by Eli Zaleha to tie the score with 33:02 on the clock, but Marshall struck again, blasting in a 32-yard direct kick with 19:17 left until halftime to put Troy back on top.
With 6:45 left in the half, Springfield tied the score again, this time with Patel knocking a 20-yard direct kick under Troy’s leaping wall and in to make it a 2-2 game. But with 5:20 to go, Sam Kazmaier sent a long diagonal pass to Bobby Gayhart on the right side, and Gayhart knocked it inside the far post to give Troy a 3-2 lead at the break.
The Trojans never let go of control in the second half, dominating play throughout until Lucas Buschur sent a pass to Aydan Weaver in front of the goal and Weaver drove home an insurance goal to give the Trojans a 4-2 lead with 26:35 to play.
With 6:49 to go, the Wildcats were hit with a red card and had to play the rest of the match down a man. Troy took advantage, with Marshall scoring on a breakaway with 3:22 to play to finish off his hat trick and then Kazmaier scoring on an assist from Jon Hipolito with 1:43 to play to wrap things up.
“We’ve depended on Gavin and Jon and Sam all season long,” Phillips said. “Tonight, Gavin came through for us. Jon and Sam had some opportunities tonight, too. Having those three in the middle of the park, it’s a pleasure to coach them and to watch them play.”
Troy will host Stebbins at 7 p.m. Thursday in the tournament’s second round.