The Trojan soccer team clinched second place in the Sun Belt and concluded regular season play following a 2-1 victory over Arkansas State on Friday, Oct. 23, and a 0-0 tie against Little Rock on Sunday, Oct. 25.
In its first match, Troy (13-4-1, 6-2-1 Sun Belt) dominated possession and was able to create more chances than the visiting Red Wolves (3-13-1, 6-2 Sun Belt). Sophomore defender Haley Roberson showed her offensive productivity repeatedly in the match, delivering cross after cross. Junior forward Abby Reynolds scored on a Robertson cross in the 36th minute to seemingly put the game away for the hosts.
The Trojans were unlucky not to have left Friday night’s encounter with a more lopsided score. Arkansas State registered seven shots, but the Trojans fired three times as many.
“We maintained possession well,” head coach Jason Hamilton said. “We switched the point of attack well, too. I think we could have been a little better in the final third.
“We took some shots we probably shouldn’t have and maybe took a touch too many. We came out better in the second half, but we’re disappointed with only scoring two goals.”
Arkansas State came into the game looking to sustain ball pressure, but it troubled the Trojan defense very little. The lone goal scored by the Red Wolves came after a scramble in the box in the 63rd minute, which tied the game at 1-1 in the second half.
Troy reclaimed the lead shortly after in the 67th minute, thanks to Reynolds.
Sunday’s match against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock was a celebration for the Trojans’ winningest group of seniors in school history.
Little Rock (8-6-5, 3-2-4 Sun Belt) proved stiffer competition for the Trojans than its in-state neighbors. Troy once again claimed the vast majority of possession, getting off 19 shots against the visiting team.
Sophomore goalkeeper Mikki Lewis was called upon four times, denying the visiting score at each turn. Only one of Little Rock’s five shots was off-target. The solid defensive display helped Lewis to her eighth shutout of the season.
“The older girls all season have really taken the younger ones under their wings,” said senior midfielder Alissa Jones. “We’ve helped them to adjust to the college game.
“A tie is disappointing, but getting them and ourselves recomposed for the playoffs is important. We have 10 days off to improve even more than we did during the season.”
The Trojans will enter the Sun Belt postseason tournament in the second seed, matching Jason Hamilton’s preseason prediction.
“Jason, as a coach, was the best thing to ever happen to Troy,” Jones said. “He demands perfection, and Troy is benefitting from it. We’re all a family here, and that’s because of Jason.”
The Trojans will face the seventh-seeded Sun Belt team in Atlanta on Wednesday, Nov. 4.