TROY — Northmont scored the first goal in the sectional semifinal Thursday night against Troy when junior defender Jillian Naas scored with 27:40 remaining in the first half, but the lead wouldn’t hold for long.
Troy answered just over one minute later with a goal by midfielder Megan Malott to knot the score 1-1 with 26:36 remaining in the half. Neither team could find the net the remainder of the first half with the score remaining deadlocked at the break.
It didn’t take Troy long to take a 2-1 lead when play resumed. Josalyn Abrams scored off a corner kick one minute and 27 seconds into the second half to give the Lady Trojans a 2-1 lead they would not surrender.
With the victory Troy improves to 12-4-1 and advances to the sectional final to face Sidney (13-2-2) on Monday, Oct. 23 at Springfield. With the loss the Lady Bolts end their season at 7-7-4.
Second half play became very physical with Troy winning almost every contested fifty-fifty ball. The Lady Trojans hustled, but their physical play raised the ire of the Northmont fans who took their anger out on the referees.
The rough and tumble play took its toll, but Northmont managed to mount some runs on the Troy goal and at one point had back-to-back corner kicks late in the second half. Rozalyn Malott sent a header toward the right side of the net off the first corner kick but Troy midfielder Anna Burghardt leaped up and used her head to deflect the shot just wide of the goal. The second corner kick got cleared away and a Troy player caught up to the ball and raced to the opposite end of the field. Troy kept the ball at the far end of the field as time expired to seal the 2-1 victory.
When asked if playing on Troy’s natural grass field had any impact on the game’s outcome, Northmont Coach Ted Mergler said it didn’t.
“Not really. The only time we play on turf is during games. We practice three or four days a week on grass and our field is in pretty much the same condition as this one,” Mergler said. “Troy’s field has been taken care of and it hasn’t been weathered down by the football team, so I don’t think that has anything to do with it. The bottom line is that we created a lot of opportunities tonight, but we just couldn’t get one in the back of the net in the second half. Troy took advantage of some good opportunities. Corner kicks seem to be our Achilles’ heel this year. I am proud of my girls. They fought hard and they gave Troy a battle tonight. We just didn’t get the victory.”
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@AimMediaMidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind