Thursday, October 21, 2010

Troy on top: Flying Horses give up first goal of season, but hang on to defeat Albany, 2-1

Troy High's Rafik Mekhaldi collides with Albany High goalkeeper David Stempsey during Thursday's Big 10 Conference boys soccer game at Bleecker Stadium. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

ALBANY — One streak ended, but another endures for the Troy High School boys soccer team.

With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Troy allowed its first goal of the season, as Albany’s Andreas Moukassa scored the game-tying goal off a corner kick by Stefano Sainato.

The Flying Horses didn’t let that feeling last too long, as Sean Wilson made a long throw-in with fewer than two minutes to play, finding twin bother Brandon Wilson, who headed in the go-ahead goal just before halftime.

Troy High goalkeeper Bobby Strang made 11 saves, including a stop on Sainato’s direct kick attempt with 1:28 remaining in regulation, as the Flying Horses posted a 2-1 Big 10 Conference victory on Charlie Leigh Field at Bleecker Stadium.

Troy (12-0-0, 13-0-0), still undefeated, has outscored opponents 47-1 this season.

“I knew that was going to happen,” said Strang, a junior, pictured at right. “The streak of shutouts, it’s not important to me. In fact, it helped us. At halftime we were very calm because we knew, hey, we had given up a goal, but we had a lead.”

In the game’s eighth minute, Troy’s Erik Vink-Lainas scored off an assist from Wayne Russell to give the Flying Horses an early lead.

Albany (11-1-0, 13-1-0), which has outscored its opponents 53-7 this season, responded just over 20 minutes later with Moukassa’s equalizing goal. The team responded joyously, knowing it had snapped Troy unscored-upon streak.

The Flying Horses responded with their set-piece offense that has served the team well all season long. Sean Wilson’s 30-yard throw-in pass right in front of the net nearly found Brandon Wilson’s forehead on the fly, allowing him to tap in the game-winning goal with his head.

“Ever since I’ve been playing soccer, I’ve had a really, really long throw,” said Sean Wilson, a senior, pictured at left. “We use our throws to our advantage, like another corner kick. I throw the ball into the box and the defense doesn’t know what to do. Brandon is about 6-foot-4 and that really helps in there.”

“He knows where I’m going to be and he knows where to throw it,” Brandon Wilson, pictured below right, said. “It’s kind of a twin thing. He’s been throwing it like that since he was 14, and I’ve always been on the end of it, so it paid off tonight.”

Troy plays at crosstown rival La Salle Institute (4-8-0, 5-9-0) Saturday at 6 p.m. before closing out the regular season at home against Albany on Monday at 4 p.m.

Albany next plays at Christian Brothers Academy (1-10-1, 1-12-1) Saturday morning.

Should both Albany and Troy win Saturday, Monday’s game will determine whether Troy will clinch the Big 10 regular season title outright or settle for a co-championship with the Falcons.

A co-championship will lead to a coin toss to determine seeds in the Section II Class AA postseason brackets. The Big 10’s No. 1 seed will face the Suburban Council’s No. 9 seed in an opening round game. The No. 2 seed will host the Suburban’s No. 6.

The Wilson twins have been four-year varsity players for the Flying Horses and hope to cap their senior season with an elusive Big 10 soccer title for Troy High, which last won a Big 10 title in back-to-back seasons in 1993 and 1994.
Troy High head coach Mike Murnane, at left, was a member of the Flying Horses' most recent Big 10 championship teams in 1993 and 1994. 

“My first year on the team, we lost a sectional game 10-0,” said Brandon Wilson. “The second year, we were up to around .500 and last year we had a great season with just the one league loss to Albany. We’ve been making progress every year.”


Troy (12-0-0, 13-0-0) 2 0 — 2
Albany (11-1-0, 13-1-0) 1 0 — 1
Scoring: T: Vink-Lainas 1-0, B.Wilson 1-0, Russell 0-1, S.Wilson 0-1. A: Moukassa 1-0, Sainato 0-1.
Goalie saves: T: Strang, 11. A: Stempsey, 6.
Corner kicks: T: 1. A: 4.

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