The Troy soccer team’s season came to a close on Sunday, Nov. 9, when it fell to South Alabama 1-0 in the Sun Belt Conference championship game. The Trojans won their first two games of the tournament 1-0 against UL Lafayette and Texas State.
Troy (16-6, 6-3 Sun Belt) started the SBC tournament, which was hosted by South Alabama in Mobile, against UL Lafayette on Wednesday, Nov. 5. The Trojans had already played the Ragin’ Cajuns (9-8-2, 4-4-1 Sun Belt) earlier in the season on Oct. 3, which the Trojans won 2-0.
The Ragin’ Cajuns came out strong in the first half, and despite Troy’s efforts, ULL played Troy to a stalemate in the opening 45 minutes. Both teams managed seven shots in the first half, with none on goal for the Trojans.
The second half was a completely different story for the Trojans, who dominated the ULL defense in every aspect.
Troy fired 17 shots in the second half, and if not for a 10-save performance from ULL junior goalkeeper Lindsey Stocks, the final score would have been different.
In the end, the Trojans came out victorious, 1-0, thanks to a solo goal from junior midfielder
Alissa Jones, who wove through defenders to score.
With the win, Troy advanced to play Texas State, the No. 3 seed in the SBC tournament.
Texas State had already beaten the Trojans earlier in the season 2-0, and was one of only two teams to shut out the Trojans during the regular season.
When the two teams met on Friday, Nov. 7, however, the result was much different from
that of the first contest. The Trojans came ready to play, and freshman midfielder Mallary Hedden scored the first goal of her career in the second minute.
Hedden scored on a header cross from senior defender Paige McMillan to put Troy up 1-0 early.
It would be a battle of the defenses for the rest of the match, however, and when it was all said and done, Hedden’s goal was all that Troy needed
to hold off the Bobcats (11-7-2, 5-3-1 Sun Belt). Freshman goalkeeper Mikki Lewis finished the night with four saves, preserving the Trojans’ lead.
With two wins in the SBC tournament, the No. 2 seed Trojans advanced to face the No. 1 seed South Alabama, which would be playing on its home field for the championship game.
The match started slowly, as both teams were unable to generate much offense in the first half.
That changed when freshman forward Charde Hannah scored her 20th goal of the season in the 22nd minute. Sophomore defender Nikki Shirtcliffe passed the ball into the box, which deflected off Hannah and past Lewis for the score.
Troy wasn’t going to go down without a fight, however, and managed seven shots in the second half as it sought an equalizer. However, it was USA that was victorious as it won its second straight Sun Belt championship 1-0.
“Be proud of what you’ve accomplished this season,” said first-year head coach Jason Hamilton to his team after the game. “You put Troy soccer on the map.”
The Trojans made history this season by breaking 21 team and individual records, including junior forward Chelsey Williams setting a new Troy record for most career goals with 25.
Under Hamilton, the Trojans set a new record at Troy for most wins in a season, and with several returning starters, the Trojans look to continue to improve going into next season.