Troy Stays Perfect With 1-0 Win Over Athens
The Colts, who are 7-0 for the season, scored the only goal of the game with just under 18 minutes left in the second half when senior Mitchell Judy ran up the right sideline and sent a cross to the top of the box. Sophomore Jacob Meissner took Judy’s pass and delivered a well-placed strike that beat the Athens’ goalkeeper and found the top corner of the net.
Judy said a win against the corsstown rival is big for any season and marks a personal accomplishment for himself.
“I’m a senior and I haven’t lost in all my games against Athens, and I wanted to keep that going,” Judy said. “It’s definitely big. I think it’s the most important game of the season because winning the state’s (championship) is pretty slim.”
The Colts are coming off back-to-back Oakland Activities Association championship seasons, while the Red Hawks have posted two consecutive winning seasons. With both teams now in the upper tier of the OAA, Troy goalkeeper Matt Smolinski said the rivalry will likely grow.
“That’s pressure and good players play well under pressure,” Smolinski said. “There’s nothing better than beating your cross-town rivals.”
Troy has won four straight in the rivalry, but the recent Colt dominance has not diminished the game’s importance to the players.
“The past two years we lost by more than two goals (to Troy) so this year we wanted to go all out,” Athens midfielder Alex Serwatka said. “We’re at the point where we’re playing really well as a team and I’m proud of our performance.”
Athens defenseman Danny Harris, a junior, said coming into the game off of a win and facing their crosstown rivals had everyone playing their hardest.
“It was the best game we played all season,” Harris said. “We just couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net.”
The Red Hawks, who hold a record of 2-3 on the season, had chances to tie late, including a corner kick in the final minute of the game, but key saves by Smolinski made allowed the Colts to hold on for the victory.
Athens coach Todd Heugh said he expected a close game because of how well the Red Hawks had been playing coming into the game. Athens had won its last two games by a combined score of 5-0.
“They had a better record than us coming into the game, but I though the game was awfully even,” Heugh said. “I know they’re good and they have a great record, but we’ve been playing well as of late and I expected to go toe-to-toe tonight.”
Heugh said he was impressed with the Red Hawks’ performance despite the loss.
“I thought at times we were able to break them down,” Heugh said. “We definitely had our share of chances tonight. You have to take your hats off to their team defending and their goalkeeping.”
Heugh, an Athens alum in his first year coaching at the school, has experienced the rivalry both as a player and a coach.
“The two schools share a great rivalry,” Heugh said. “I have my own memories and opinions of it from back when I was a player. For these guys it’s probably a little different because a lot of them play soccer together in the off-season and they know each other.”
Troy coach Brian Zawislak said he has been pleased with his team’s play defensively and in goal throughout the whole season. The Colts have surrendered only one goal in total through their first seven games.
“The back line’s playing with a lot of confidence because Matt (Smolinski) is playing with so much confidence,” Zawislak said. “Everyone’s really on the same page.”
He said the game meant a lot to everyone involved.
“The players out on the field were living and dying through each play,” Zawislak said. “It’s tough and it’s challenging but at the end of the day there’s a lot of respect on both sides for each program because they’ve been so strong in the state for years.”