Soccer team sputters to start 2017 season

Wesley Kirchharr

Staff Writer

The Troy soccer team dropped its first two games of the 2017 season, falling to Mercer and Florida, before picking up its first victory over in-state foe Alabama State.

The Trojans fell to Mercer at home Friday, losing 1-0 after a late goal by the Bears. Troy then found it difficult to keep pace with a top 10 Florida team on Sunday, allowing the Gators to cruise to a 5-0 victory. The Trojans then picked up their first win at home on Tuesday, topping Alabama State 2-0.

On Friday evening, the Trojans (1-2, 0-0 Sun Belt) allowed the Bears only four shots on the night, but one late goal was all Mercer needed to escape with the win. Troy’s second-largest crowd in its history of 1,114 fans watched as Caroline Smith scored the game’s only goal in the 84th minute.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but the work that can be done is in our hands,” said Head Coach Ged O’Connor in an interview with the Tropolitan. “The communication was great.

“I can’t be disappointed in the work rate and the effort that the girls put out; there’s no concerns there whatsoever.”

Troy took 13 shots on the night, five of which were saved by Mercer’s goalkeeping duo of Jordyn Ebert and Leah Cochran. Sophomores Amber Harless and Qarli Stone paced the Trojan attack, taking three and two shots, respectively.

In only the third matchup against a ranked team in program history, Troy fell short against the seventh-ranked Florida Gators in Gainesville on Sunday night. Florida took 23 shots on the night, leaving Troy with only one. The Gators jumped out to a 3-0 lead at the half, scoring in the 11th, 28th and 36th minutes.

Redshirt freshman Haleigh Mercer made her first appearance in cardinal and white, getting the starting position in net for the Trojans. Mercer and senior Mikki Lewis tallied seven and three saves, respectively.

Florida scored twice more in the second half, striking in the 47th and 86th minutes, putting the game away for good.

On Tuesday night, Troy picked up its first win under new coach O’Connor, downing Alabama State 2-0.

After no scores in the first half, the Trojans scored twice in the final 45 minutes off two assists from senior Haley Roberson. Roberson found Stone in the 49th minute to put the Trojans up by one. Then, Roberson found sophomore Julia Winter open just 12 minutes later to improve Troy’s lead.

“There was a little bit of a confidence issue, and they were trying not to make mistakes in the first half,” O’Connor said. “In the second half, I think our team really bought in to everything we’ve been trying to accomplish and played a lot better.”

Troy returns to action Friday, hosting Murray State at 5 p.m. before taking on Jackson State on Sunday in Jackson, Mississippi.

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