TROY — Early in the second half, the Piqua girls soccer team felt it had claimed the momentum.
In the end, though, Troy’s quick-strike ability was simply too much.
Piqua converted a penalty kick less than four minutes into the second half to cut Troy’s lead to two, but the eighth-seeded Trojans ran off four goals in the match’s final 24 minutes to put away a 7-1 victory over the 15th-seeded Indians in the opening round of the Division I sectional tournament Tuesday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Troy, which improved to 9-4-4 with the win, advances to face No. 14 Wayne in the second round — the Trojans’ first matchup against a team from outside the Miami Valley League this season. It was also the Trojans’ second victory over the Indians this season, the first also being a 7-1 win on Sept. 21 at Piqua.
This time, though, the teams had to contend with a constant drizzle and a Troy Memorial Stadium field with the consistency of molasses.
“We were not playing our best soccer, and of course the field conditions didn’t help,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said. “I felt like we were playing Piqua and the field, and we let the field get into our heads a little bit. It takes away our game — we thrive on speed and good, creative play, and when the conditions are the way they are, it totally neutralizes some of that.
“Everything was slow. We were literally running in mud — but both teams played in the same conditions. I’ve got to give Piqua credit. They did a pretty good job defensively.”
Piqua, which entered the night on a two-game winning streak, finished the year 5-11. But, as she had most of the season, senior goalkeeper Karley Johns kept things close and gave the Indians a chance to get back into the game, making 18 saves on the night and holding the Trojans to only three goals in the first half.
“Credit Piqua’s keeper, too. She made some great saves and kept them in it for a while,” Rasey said of Johns.
In the end, though, Piqua couldn’t mount a counterattack as Troy outshot the Indians 25-4 in the game — and when the goals came for the Trojans, they came in bunches.
Troy got on the board early, with Maddie Brewer sending a ball through to Julianna Williams — who finished the night with a hat trick — and Williams hit a shot off the far post and in to give Troy a 1-0 lead with 36:59 left in the first half.
That’s where things stayed until the 24:26 mark, when a pass by Eva Raskay sprung Williams for another breakaway goal to make it 2-0. Less than a minute later at 23:42, Raskay fed Ali Davis, who hit a high-arcing shot over the keeper’s head to make it 3-0 — but Piqua made sure Troy couldn’t add to the lead, and it remained 3-0 at halftime.
“When you get in conditions like this and it’s tournament soccer, you throw the records out the window,” Rasey said. “It just boils down to executing and doing what you’ve got to do to survive and advance.”
But with 36:47 remaining in the match, a handball in the box awarded Piqua with a penalty kick try, and Rachel Cavendar converted to cut Troy’s lead to just two. The Indians continued to challenge, with Raylynn Ward nearly cutting into the lead more on a breakaway but Troy’s Kelly Kauflin making a save to preserve the lead.
And with 23:35 to play, Davis sent a pass to Williams in front of the goal, and Williams knocked it in with her left foot to give Troy a 4-1 lead and knock the wind out of the Indians’ sails.
“They had the momentum for a bit, but once we got that fourth goal, the floodgates opened a little,” Rasey said. “When you have the depth we have, with good players up and down the lineup, that’s going to eventually carry you through in a game like this.”
With 18:55 to go, Brewer got her second assist of the night, setting up a score in front by Chamber Browning to make it 5-1. Then with 5:55 on the clock, Madison Burton knocked in a shot from 18 yards out for an unassisted goal, and with 3:41 to play Kendra Kovacs scored on a rebound for the night’s final tally.
Troy will take on Wayne (3-12-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
“It’ll be an interesting thing playing Wayne this year,” Rasey said. “Wayne’s a team we typically play year in and year out, and I told the girls that their record is deceptive. They play in a tough conference. We can’t overlook Wayne by any means.
“When we play the way we can play, we can match up with anybody. And so if we can show up Saturday night and play our game, look out.”