Troy soccer opens regular season with win, loss

Scott McLendon

Staff Writer

The Trojan soccer team split its first two regular season games of 2016, defeating Gardner-Webb 2-0 on Friday and losing to Samford by the same margin on Sunday.

Troy (1-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) put the pressure on the Runnin’ Bulldogs (0-1-1, 0-0 Big South) early, tallying seven shots in the first half. Despite the Trojans’ aggressive offensive play, they went into the locker room without a goal and a tied game.

That all changed nine minutes into the second half when sophomore forward Brooke McKee buried a cross from senior forward Abby Reynolds to give the Trojans the lead.

Reynolds followed her assist with a goal of her own, putting a rebound away and the game to bed. With the goal, Reynolds moved up to a tie for sixth all-time leading scorer for the Trojans.

The Trojans managed 15 total shots on the evening while allowing nine from the Bulldogs. Troy’s opening performance also featured 12 debutants that included three freshmen: defenders Maddie Brune, Nicole Strahl and Klara Andrup.

“I thought that we played well overall,” head coach Jason Hamilton said. “We played a lot of people knowing that we have a tough weekend with a lot of travel.

“We came out strong in the first half with seven shots, but we weren’t thrilled that it was 0-0 (at halftime). We have to take advantage of those opportunities. I thought we came out in the second half, stepped up and had some good looks at goal and converted.”

Despite the hot start, the Trojans met the opposite outcome on the road against Samford two days later.

The Samford Bulldogs (1-0-1, 0-0 Southern) seized the lead early through a goal from senior forward Malcanisha Kelley who collected a pass from sophomore midfielder Courtney Hendrickson before slicing through the Trojan defense and putting the ball in the back of the net in the 11th minute.

Starting Trojan junior keeper Mikki Lewis worked for five saves in brutally sloppy and rainy conditions, but it wasn’t enough to keep out two first-half goals on her watch.

The Bulldogs struck again in the 39th minute, looking comfortable on home soil at the Samford Soccer Complex. A Trojan backline pass was intercepted by senior defender Olivia Cole, who took no time in pinpointing fellow senior forward Jermaine Seoposenwe to seal up the victory for the Bulldogs.

“I think we came out a little flat,” Hamilton said. “They came out and won all the dirty stats. They beat us to the first ball and the second ball. I don’t think either team played its best soccer, but they took advantage of two mistakes and we weren’t able to respond.”

Samford fired 15 total shots, seven of them on target, while Troy only managed seven shots and one on frame. Andrup forced the Samford keeper into her only save of the night.

The Trojans will make their home debut on Friday, Aug. 26, in the Trojan Classic. The Troy opener will be against Belmont, who will be looking to avenge a 2-1 defeat in the Classic last season.

Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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