GIRLS SOCCER: Off-Pitch Circumstances No Aid To Colts

COLTS FRESHMAN ALLY SMOLINSKI works the ball on the dribble away from an Eisenhower defender in the second half of last Friday night's defeat to the Eagles. Troy was able to rebound, though, scoring a 2-0 victory over Rochester on Thursday to pick up its third win of the year.

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by BRYAN EVERSON

Unusual circumstances and a good game of tactical chess allowed Troy to subdue the high-octane offense of Eisenhower temporarily.

The Colts allowed just two goals before halftime last Friday, but Ike eventually found its groove and rolled comfortably in a 5-0 victory at Swinehart Field.

Still, the visitors had a right to feel hard done by circumstances out of their control.

First, a home matchup the night before scheduled against Stoney Creek, the defending Division 1 state champions, was cancelled due to heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Then, Friday’s game originally looked as if it may be just a scrimmage when some confusion led to an absence of officials present. They eventually arrived, prompting some lineup changes from each side, some planned, some not.

“It was an unfortunate event tonight,” Troy coach Dan Troccoli said. “The referees weren’t going to be here, so it was game on, then game off, and it was going to be a scrimmage, so we were going to change the lineup. Then it was back on at the last minute, so instead of changing the lineup again we kept it. it was a little unsettling in that respect.”

Troy came out as formidable as any opponent has looked against Ike as of late — the Eagles had combined for 19 goals in their three previous outings — but senior midfielder Jillian Winarski opened up her shape and curled a shot inside the far post from 15 yards out with 22:50 on the clock, just seconds after she was substituted into the game.

Proper spacing and plenty of numbers in the midfield — Troy deputized five midfielders that crowded the center — did manage to limit the opposition’s effectiveness for a majority of the opening 40 minutes.

“Every coach has a different style; they were playing a 4-5-1 to plug up the middle and it did a good job,” Eisenhower coach Mehrdad Nekoogar said of the Colts’ formation.

Mentally, though, Trocolli indicated things went south fairly quick.

“The first 10 minutes was really good, but after that, the intensity level from our end dropped, and theirs picked up. That’s pretty much where the rest of the game went.”

Ike eventually got a second goal before half in spectacular fashion. Senior Bella Jodzis, a returning Division 1 Dream Team forward and Michigan State commit, began a remarkable run the started from 30 yards out and worked centrally from the right side before finding a space between the left and center back, then twisted a shot back to the opposite side that rolled perfectly inside the left post and out of the reach of Troy goalkeeper Lindsey Bolas.

“It’s something we have to concentrate on with our back line, talk about and try to figure out what to do with that type of player,” Troccoli said. “I don’t think we’re going to see many players like that all year long — we might see her again in districts or regionals, who knows — but our mindset was not here tonight, the proper one to play the game, and unfortunately the result is the result.”

On the other side of the break, the Eagles began to increase the margin of victory 17 minutes in when Ike forward Lauren DeBeau collected a long ball over the top and got her boot onto an in-stride volley from inside 10 yards that beat Bolas to put her team up by 3. Jodzis would feed DeBeau for her second after whipping a ground cross into the box from the left corner and some trouble on the clearance allowed her to find the net from within 15 yards with 19:33 to play.

Taylor Stanley was able to cap off the scoring with 4:55 remaining, taking advantage a defensive lapse by Troy and finishing from just inside the edge of the 18-yard box.

One positive takeaway was the Colts’ ability to at times expose Eisenhower to danger by pulling the wide backs up and working the ball outside in the final third.

“That’s what we do very well, attack well on the flanks, but tonight when we tried to get the ball higher, we weren’t holding the ball properly and laying it off the way we should,” Troccoli said.

Lapses defensively like the long ball by the Eagles that led to the final goal allowed are one area of improvement Troccoli emphasized following the game.

“One thing that I told the girls is that we can’t play with a lack of intensity, and they’re way better than they played tonight — I mean, light years better — and they agreed that it just wasn’t their best effort,” he said.

Troy did improve to 3-2-0 on Thursday thanks to a 2-0 win over Rochester, which included a goal from senior Caroline Schlimgen, one of the Colts’ forwards absent [illness] from the Eisenhower defeat.