Thursday, October 7, 2010

No goals allowed: Troy High soccer team still streaking, tops CCHS 4-0

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow Thursday afternoon for the Troy High School boys soccer team? Yet another shutout. The Flying Horses defeated Catholic Central, 4-0, their ninth straight shutout to open the 2010 season. (Photo by Will Montgomery - The Record).

TROY — The Catholic Central High School boys soccer team painted their counterparts from Troy High into a corner Thursday afternoon, which was just fine with the Flying Horses.

Troy, with the wind at its back on a rain-soaked and soggy field in the first half thanks to a pregame coin toss, scored its first two goals on corner kicks and tallied its third – a beautiful bicycle kick by Badro Tabli on a pass from Wayne Russell – on a throw-in from near the corner. The Flying Horses 8-0 in the Big 10 Conference and 9-0 overall, posted a 4-0 victory at Troy High School. It was the ninth shutout in nine games for the team this season.

“Every game I’m always thinking, what if this team scores and all that,” said Russell, pictured below, a senior outside midfielder. “What happens if we lose? But it’s always good.”

“We don’t talk about it,” head coach Mike Murnane said of Troy’s shutout streak. “It’s just go out and play. It’s a nice thing to have and it’s a great accomplishment so far, but it’s not really on our mind as far as the goals.”

Troy has outscored its opponents 29-0 through nine games.

Junior goalkeeper Bobby Strang made three saves in net for Troy (8-0-0, 9-0-0), while Catholic Central’s Charlie Farrell made 12 stops for the Crusaders (4-2-0, 4-4-0).

The Flying Horses used the wind to take advantage of five corner kicks in the first half. Brandon Wilson headed in Troy’s first goal after Catholic Central defender Mike Doyle, hoping to clear the corner kick, booted it straight up in the sky. Wilson tracked its trajectory and punched it into the net with his forehead.

“The corner kicks, we try to do as much as we can,” Russell said. “We work on it a lot, getting the people who have the dominant foot on that side hit it from the outside-in. We also have Brandon in the box and he’s like 6-2, so that helps a lot.”

"He’s got amazing vision for the game," Murnane said of Brandon Wilson. "I’ve seen him kicking it around since he was in sixth grade, kicking it around at RPI. I’d be there doing pick up soccer and he would be there. Even as a sixth grader, he had that vision and he honed it and developed it along with the rest of his skills. Even physically, the kid is 6-4, 190 pounds. He’s effective."  

Troy High senior captain Brandon Wilson, left, a striker, battles for control of the ball with Catholic Central's Mike Doyle during Thursday's Big 10 Conference game at Troy High School. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Will Valle scored Troy’s second goal after the ball caromed his way after a corner kick. He braced himself for the shot and blasted it to the open left corner of the net.

“You try to get the moons and the stars aligned for the kids,” Murnane said of his set piece strategy. “You have to get everything so it’s balanced. Some kids are better at certain sides – some kids are left-footed – so you want to get them in the right position so they get a better foot on the ball.”

With just minutes remaining before the half, Brandon Wilson threw the ball in from a spot near the corner, finding Russell, who set up Talbi for a gravity-defying bicycle kick goal in front of the net.

“A lot of our goals are off set pieces,” Murnane said. “You spend a lot of time on it in practice and you hope it pays off. This year it definitely has paid off.”

In the second half, a Catholic Central player accidentally kicked the ball into his own net, accounting for Troy’s final tally.

Troy has six regular season games remaining – including a pair against Albany High (8-0-0, 10-0-0) which has won seven games via the shutout – and the Flying Horses are hoping they are building toward something special once the postseason rolls around.

“We were in the middle of preseason not knowing who we had, really, who was going to play on the team and who wasn’t going to play on the team,” said Russell. “But through the season, it’s been getting really good. We’re working on our passing and our defense and we’ve been making the plays and getting those goals into the back of the net.”

The crowd wasn't particularly raucous at Thursday's game, but that doesn't mean it doesn't matter to the players. Troy has owned the Collar City soccer scene this year, having defeated CCHS twice, La Salle once and even topped Waterford-Halfmoon in a non-conference game, 1-0, for good measure.

"For some reason, ever since we started playing last year, it’s always been a big thing since it’s a local thing, right in Troy," Russell said. "People from our school and their school like to come to the game and it’s always a fun game to play."

As Wilson told The Record on Monday, the people that are most happy with the team's defensive skills are the offensive players, who find their skills improving every day in practice.

"The offense does really build off of that," said Russell. "With Graeme (Corrigan) and Sean Sleicher and Erik (Vink-Lainas) and all those guys in the back. They play really good defense and when I can’t get back sometimes, they have my back and they’re stopping the goals. I’m really glad that we have this team right now and I’m glad to be on it."

Catholic Central's Giacomo Giglio (center) tries to thread the needle between Troy's Brandon Dory (left) and Jordan Schroeder (right) during Thursday's Big 10 game. (Carras photo).

With the regular season winding down, the Flying Horses are really starting to build toward the season's main goal - a chance at a Section II title. First, however, they need to win a sectional game, something that hasn't happened at the school in quite some time.

"Obviously, keeping a clean sheet every day is what you look for, so it’s kind of a short term goal," Murnane said. "We’re looking long-term, win each game, contend for the Big 10 right down until the end – it looks like we’re going to be playing Albany probably the last two games at this point – and we have a lot of schedule left. We’re just crossing the halfway point. We're taking it one game at a time, preparing ourselves and trying to put ourselves in the best spot at the end of the season. It would be nice to pull off a sectional win."

Catholic Central (4-2-0, 4-4-0) 0 0 — 0
Troy (8-0-0, 9-0-0) 3 1 — 4
Scoring: T: Brandon Wilson 1-0, Will Valle 1-0, Badro Talbi 1-0, Rafik Mekhaldi 0-1, Wayne Russell 0-1. CCHS: Kyle Shoemaker 1-0.
Goalie saves: T: Bobby Strang, 3. CCHS: Charlie Farrell, 12.
Corner kicks: T: 6. CCHS: 3.

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