Monday, October 4, 2010

Incredible fall season happening at Troy High School, especially for the boys soccer team

TROY -- The fall of 2010 has been a great time to be an athlete at Troy High School.

The Flying Horses' football team is 5-0 and has outscored opponents 221-12.

The girls volleyball team is still undefeated (6-0, 11-0) and has not lost a game in Big 10 Conference competition since the 2007 season.

Twins Bianca Jordan (19:27) and Alexis Jordan (21:13) finished 1-2 to lead the host Flying Horses past the Crusaders in a Big 10 girls cross country encounter over a three-mile course.

Last, but not least, the boys soccer team at Troy High is undefeated and un-scored upon through seven games.

Check out The Record on Tuesday for stories on the boys soccer and volleyball teams. In the meantime, here is an excerpt from the soccer story.

Troy High junior Erik Vink-Lainas has been a major contributor to the Flying Horses defense this season that has not allowed a single goal through seven games. (Photos by Mike McMahon - The Record).

The boys soccer team at Troy High School has won each of its first seven games by shutout, and no one could be happier than senior striker Brandon Wilson.

Wilson, who has scored five goals this season, is one of the Flying Horses’ offensive leaders. Still, every day after school, he can’t wait for practice so he gets a chance to hone his skills against Troy’s tough defense.

"They shut me down," laughed Wilson. "It makes the offense better too, when you practice against a defense that good. It kind of helps both ways."

As far as the shutout streak goes, the buck stops with junior goalkeeper Bobby Strang, who had played in a handful of games last season as the backup to then-senior Zach Scher. Scher was named co-Big 10 Conference Goalkeeper of the Year after Troy allowed just nine goals in league play in 2009 en route to a second-place Big 10 finish.

Strang, however, gives all the credit to the defensive unit in front of him.

"It’s all the defense," said Strang. "I mean, if you’re at the games, I barely touch the ball and that’s because these guys, they’re always doing their job. I give them little hints about what to do and as long as they do it, they know they’ll be OK."

Troy junior goalkeeper Bobby Strang makes a save during Monday's practice behind the high school. He has not allowed the ball to hit the net all season, thanks in large part to the defensive unit in front of him.

"He’s a solid keeper," said Troy head coach Mike Murnane. "He plays year-round and gets goalie training year-round. He’s very confident and very outspoken and controls his defense. He’s outstanding."

Troy (6-0-0, 7-0-0) has outscored opponents 19-0, thanks in large part to this unit of defenders: Senior Sean Sleicher, juniors Jordan Schroeder and Erik Vink-Lainas as well as sophomores Graeme Corrigan and Brandon Dory, who is back at full strength after missing most of last season with an injured foot.

"I think it’s just how they’ve played their whole lives," Wilson said. "Most of these guys play travel soccer and they’re competitors. In practice, they’re competitors. They don’t want to let the offense score. It carries over to the games, where they play hard."

Troy was set to host Albany High (4-0-0, 6-0-0) last Thursday, but the Big 10 showdown was postponed because of the heavy rain the region received. A make-up date has yet to be set. The Flying Horses last won a regular season title in the league in 1994. In fact, Murnane was a member of the Troy High teams that won back-to-back Big 10 championships in 1993 and 1994.

"Our main goal this season was to try to win the league and put ourselves in the best position seeding-wise for sectionals," said Murnane. "I haven’t had a sectional victory as a player or a coach."

What has lifted the team in the standings the past few seasons has been the off-season dedication to the sport put forth by the players. There is no youth soccer program in the City of Troy proper, but almost every single one of the players on the Flying Horses roster first picked up the game out in the country at Brunswick Youth Soccer.

Sophomore defender Brandon Dory has been a big boost to the Troy High team in 2010. He missed most of the 2009 season with a foot injury.

As they aged, most of the players have gone on to play for travel teams alongside the players from the Suburban Council teams they hope to square off against – and who knows, maybe even beat - in the Section II Class AA postseason.

"We play with the top players from the Suburban and all of the leagues in the section," Wilson said. "We travel out-of-state and play top competition from all over the country and it helps. It makes you better."

"Our record has improved and the scores have improved from year to year," Murnane said. "We really made a big leap last year, going from about 7-5, to only losing two games last year, One was a league game and the other was our sectional game.

"This wasn’t that big of a surprise because we lost three players, but rest have varsity experience," continued Murnane. "My expectation was basically what we’re doing right now and I think these guys have the same expectations."

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