by BRYAN EVERSON
Troy’s season came to an end Tuesday evening, but not before a successful week that culminated in some new hardware for the trophy cabinet.
The Colts captured their first district championship since 2013, defeating Bloomfield Hills 4-2 in a penalty shootout last Saturday afternoon in their own backyard.
Maria Shuwayhat, Ally Smolinski and Chelsea Henning all converted from the spot before Troy senior goalkeeper Lindsey Bolas stepped up for the winner that secured the victory.
Stopping shots is relatively routine for Bolas, but scoring was something of a different variety.
“I haven’t scored since I played in the field when I was nine years old,” said Bolas, a four-year varsity player. In the past two seasons when I’ve gotten the chance to play in the field, it’s always been the joke, like, ‘Lindsey needs to score a goal,’ and I’ve always been so close. I’m so happy the universe held out on me and gave me a goal this game, because this is way better than any other game I wanted to score in.”
“This has been my goal for four years to win districts. Last year, it was a bumpy year, but looking back on this year, I knew we could win districts. This is a great group of girls and I’m really happy to play with them.”
Smolinski opened the scoring for Troy early in the first half on a goal that officials ruled barely crossed the line.
“I give it to the linesman,” Troy coach Dan Troccoli said. “I couldn’t tell from my vantage point, but he said it was in. Goal-line technology is not here.”
A missed penalty by the Colts roughly 10 minutes after the break nearly proved costly when Bloomfield Hills junior Christian Hickson evened the score with just 1:56 remaining in regulation, but the home side absorbed some pressure and also went forward at times to try and finish the game in the two 10-minute periods of extra time before heading to the shootout.
“It says a lot about their character and ability to rebound,” Troccoli said of his players. “They know if they can play hard, they can play with anybody in the state. We weren’t playing to get the PKs, we were playing to win in overtime. We weren’t just sitting back waiting for them.”
Later in the day at Athens, the Red Hawks had their season come to an end, falling short in a district championship 2-1 to Utica Ford.
The Falcons got the upper hand first with 23:21 on the clock in the opening half when Salena Speagle released a shot with her right foot from inside the six-yard area and Athens goalkeeper Julia Lower wasn’t able to alter the path of the ball with her left foot enough to prevent it from rolling in for the goal.
Less than 90 seconds afterward, senior Cecilia Steinwascher doubled the Red Hawks’ deficit with a shot from outside the box into the upper right corner.
“They’re a little bit more savvy than we are off the ball,” Athens coach Todd Heugh said. “They have a lot of seniors in the midfield, and we were playing with two freshmen and a sophomore. I think that got us, but it’s a game of chances and what you do. We hit the crossbar and get a corner early and the ball goes wide, and they come back down the field and score two in three minutes.”
Speagle and Steinwascher both scored goals when the two teams met in a 4-0 Ford victory in late March, but unlike then, the Red Hawks (13-6-3) were able to answer back. Midway through the second half, sophomore Skyla Gebauer played a pass forward to senior Alexis Rogers with Ford’s left back out of position, forcing a near-post save that led to a corner kick, and after the ensuing effort was initially cleared off the line, senior Hayley Rauser connected with a side volley on the rebound to make it 2-1 with 19:47 to go.
Athens knocked on the door with several good chances despite not being able to even the scoreline. Freshman Alli Leonard uncorked a shot fro 30 yards out that rang off the football crossbar just above almost immediately after Rauser’s goal, and a 3-on-1 counterattack looked to be a high-percentage chance if not for a critical interception by Ford defender Alana Wood with 10 minutes remaining.
“Nine times out of 10 Alli makes that pass to Ashley [Leonard], and probably nine times out of 10 Ashley puts that ball on frame,” Heugh said. “Yeah, that was a little bit of a bummer.”