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Troy's persistence pays off with another victory
Though early in the season, the Troy girls soccer team has produced an impressive start that has them being recognized as one of the top teams in CIF-SS Division 2.
Sophomore Lauren Woodyard scored the deciding goal just past the midway mark of the second half, as the Warriors edged Valencia, 1-0, in a nonleague match Tuesday at Valencia High.
“My goal is just to work hard, give it my all, and finish my chances,” Woodyard said.
The Warriors have now won six of their first seven matches and are ranked No. 7 in the latest CIF-SS Division 2 rankings.
Valencia (2-1) was ranked No. 10 in CIF-SS Division 3.
Even with the hot start, Warriors coach Ed Kephart says that his team focused on building and improving with an eye toward league and the postseason.
“Right now it’s about getting the girls fine-tuned and getting everyone on the same page on a regular basis,” Kephart said. “The girls believe in themselves and we have had a good start, but it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.
"As a team, we know the work that we put in during the preseason can determine how far we go in the postseason.”
The Warriors controlled possession early in the match, as Woodyard, along with senior midfielders Shea Hoover and Lindsey Dias, and junior Kaycee Hoover helped initiate several sustained runs and possession deep inside the attacking third.
Troy outshot Valencia 8-5 in the first half, but was unable to convert.
The Tigers best scoring chance of the half came in the 35 minute. Off a cross from sophmore Prarthana Somaiah, senior forward Alexandra White headed a shot that sailed just wide of the far post.
Troy continued to control possession early in the second half, winning several 50/50 balls in the middle of the field, and passing well into open spaces in the defense to set up deep runs toward the goal.
“We have been working on combinations, one and two touch passes, and moving off the ball,” Kephart said. “All four of our midfielders are seniors and play at a high level here and in club. We’re just trying to organize them in a way that they can work with one another and compliment each other.”
Junior Kaycee Hoover agreed that the work of the midfielders played a big role in the victory.
“It all started with our midfielders winning the ball,” Hoover said. “We have a lot of talent on this team and can make a good run this season.”
The Warriors strong play in the midfielder finally helped them break through with the lone goal of the match in the 62nd minute.
Off a strong run at the net, Shea Hoover put hard shot on goal that was deflected by Tigers goalie Caitlyn Schrepfer. Woodyard managed to get to the loose ball and tap it into the back of the net.
“Shea (Hoover) had a really good shot on frame,” Woodyard said. “The ball was rolling slowly and I was able to grab it and put it in.”
Kephart acknowledged the Woodward’s effort on the play put her in the right spot to make a big play.
“She is an unconventional player that is hard to deal with,” Kephart said. “She got in the right position at the right time and put it away.”
Tigers coach Barry Gardner felt that his team allowed Troy too much room to attack, but saw positives amongst his defenders that they can build from.
“We were slow to step to the ball and gave them too much space to receive the ball,” Gardner said. “We played reactive soccer instead of proactive soccer. Our defenders are really young and I liked how they stuck with it and challenged them.”
In the Aliso Cup:
No. 1 Aliso Niguel 3, Long Beach Poly 0: Gianna Dawson, Alex Howell, and Anisa Raja each tallied goals as the Wolverines (1-0) defeated the host Jackrabbits in Pool E.
No. 5 Edison 1, Buena 0: A first-half goal from Kelsea Arenado was the difference, as the host Chargers (3-0-1) defeated the Bulldogs in a Pool B match.
Sunny Hills 3, M.L. King of Riverside 0: Goals from Jewels Zuniga, Megan Villaescuesa, and Maribell Morales sparked the host Lancers (1-1) to victory in a Pool D match.
Canyon 1, Santiago of Corona 0: Mikayla Arcebido tallied the match-deciding goal in the first half to lead the Comanches (1-1) to a Pool A victory at Fred Kelly Stadium.