Troy Buchanan’s girls soccer team finished their spring season with a 2-1 loss on May 14 to Rockbridge.
Coach Zachary Kos said the team tried to play a style of soccer that would draw Rockbridge in, and let the Troy girls counter-punch, but Rockbridge scored a goal early on in the first half.
“At halftime it was 1-0, so we changed things up…we sent our wingers a little bit more forward, tried to get a little bit more offensive because we haven’t scored a whole lot of goals lately,” Kos said. “And we needed to get one to tie, our season would have ended if we [didn’t] tie that game.”
Kennedy Thompson scored a goal to even it up, but in the last six minutes of play Rockbridge scored another point.
“It was a huge goal for us, big turning point, we were really, really pressing them, and I think we exerted so much energy that we gave up a late corner kick,” Kos said. “The ball kind of bounced around in the box a couple of times and ended up going in the back of our net with about six minutes left. It was a tough one to swallow.”
Kos said he’s proud of the girls, both after that final game and for their effort, grit and perseverance through the entire season. The Lady Trojans suffered seven season-ending injuries, some occurring very early on in the spring. Many of these took key players off the field, and forced the team to adjust its entire playstyle.
“We got killed with injuries, five starters and two really good subs go down with season-ending injuries, I’ve never had a season like that where you have that many injuries, especially key players,” Kos said. “And this team just had absolutely no quit in them, just battled and battled and battled, and it showed in the last game there. They just ran out of steam at the end.”
Two players who Kos said really stepped up to the challenge were Ashton Lindsley and Rianna Wenzel.
Wenzel normally plays left back, but was moved to center midfield due to the injuries, and has been a solid piece of Troy’s defense in that position. Kos said Wenzel was “always kind of under pressure and in the fire all the time.”
“And the second one is goalie Ashton Lindsley, she just did a great job; the way we were playing we were going to give up shots sometimes, and she’s so solid in there, didn’t give up any soft ones, just kept things calm,” Kos said. “She was one of the reasons why we decided to play that style, is because she would make big saves at big times.”
The team will be losing a good deal of strong players to graduation, including Morgan Bova, Thompson, Wenzel and Lindsley, but the freshman class this year was very promising – even though some of the top freshman prospects were also waylaid by injuries.
“Maggie Illig, if she doesn’t get injured, she’s a premier goal-scorer in this conference,” Kos said. Kayla Troutman and Reagen Berra were also impressive freshman who also got injured and didn’t have the freshman season Kos had hoped for.
“Up to that point, they were gaining a lot of confidence, and we look for them to take a big step as sophomores next year,” Kos said.
The girls team will also be looking for a new head coach for the next season. Kos was acting as interim head coach this season for Nicole Wilmes, who was out this season on maternity leave. Kos will be returning to the boys program as head coach, and will focus his attention there, and Wilmes will not be returning to the program.
“I don’t know if it will be a new teacher that comes into the district or they’ll find someone that wants to be the girls head coach,” Kos said. “I think they’re stepping into a really exciting job, with the freshman that they have coming back and kind of the culture that’s already built over there.”
“I had a really good time with these girls, and I think they have a great potential for next year,” he added.