By Josh Brown
TROY — In the moment, Arianna Garcia couldn’t even process what had happened.
Even after the game had ended, she still had trouble putting it into words.
“I was, I mean, I didn’t really know how I felt before,” Troy’s senior goalkeeper said. “After, I was so emotional. It was actually the first PK I’ve ever saved in a game.”
Garcia’s big moment also proved to be a pivotal one in the Trojan girls soccer team’s season.
Facing a dangerous Butler team that boasts the two leading goal scorers in the Greater Western Ohio Conference, Garcia stuffed a penalty kick that would have cut Troy’s lead to one with 16:27 left to play. The Trojans rode the momentum of that moment, and roughly two minutes later Olivia Westfall scored the game-sealing goal as Troy put away a 4-1 victory to stay alive in the American North Division race Wednesday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Brittney Petrosky — the second-leading goal scorer in the GWOC behind teammate Bri Fourman — lined up to take the penalty kick with a big chunk of the second half still to go and a chance to put Troy on the defensive. She went high and left — but so did Garcia, stopping the shot and covering it up instantly. And Butler (6-5-2, 6-2 GWOC American North) kept the heat on her throughout the game, too, as Garcia equalled her season high with eight saves in the game to preserve the victory.
“That’s what you ask for from a player of her caliber,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said of Garcia. “She’s a senior leader, she’s been in a lot of big moments throughout her high school career — and she stepped up when it mattered the most. Along with our defense, I thought they did a really good job of doing the best job they could to contain Butler’s forwards.”
After the game, Garcia also didn’t hesitate when asked how many penalty kicks she’d faced in her career.
“Too many!” she said with a laugh. “It was a game-changer. I felt more comfortable once I saved that and we got another one in. I was not comfortable at 2-1 or even 3-1.”
Westfall helped the Trojan defense rest a little easier.
Hannah Widener got behind Butler’s defense on one of Troy’s many breakaway opportunities on the night, but the Aviator goalkeeper made a big stop, sending the rebound sailing 40 yards out — right to Westfall in open space. The junior, who already had a goal and an assist in the game, hit a high-arcing shot from that spot, sending it over the keeper’s head, under the bar and in to make it a 4-1 game with 13:58 remaining.
“I honestly though it was going over,” Westfall said. “I was so happy when it sunk in, just barely under the crossbar.”
It proved to be the back-breaking goal, as the Aviators didn’t threaten the rest of the way.
“I turned to Arianna on the field and said all that started with her,” Rasey said. “Her lifting us up with her save, that was huge in that moment of the game. No lead is safe when you’re playing a team like Butler, which has the two top scorers in Dayton.”
Offensively, Troy was more than prepared for Butler’s offside trap defense, only being called for it three times in the first half and creating a large number of breakaway chances on through balls. In fact, it was one of those plays that the Trojans got their first goal on, as Ciena Miller sprung Westfall with a pass through and Westfall — who had a wide-open teammate running beside her that would have been offsides had the ball been passed to her — wisely kept it herself and rocketed a shot in to make it 1-0 Troy with 31:14 left in the first half.
And with 13:09 left until halftime, Kiyha Adkins got free on another breakaway, and the Butler keeper came out of the box in an attempt to cut off the play. But Adkins got the ball past her and to an open Miller, who cashed in the chance to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead at the break.
“We definitely had to have our running shoes on,” Westfall said. “Coach Rasey told us before the game, so we knew we had to watch for their offside trap. We had to use our speed to our advantage.”
“Our gameplan going in was that if we could frustrate their offense, we would be able to score some goals against them,” Rasey said. “Olivia set the tone early, and we put pressure on them throughout the game. Normally that’s not our strategy, just to go direct that way. But we know, with their defense being what it is, that we could play more direct and find some good scoring chances, which we did.
“After having watched them play and knowing we could have a lot of good success with the through ball, knowing that they play a high defensive line, with the speed that we have, we made them pay.”
But no lead is safe against Butler.
Less than eight minutes into the second half, Fourman got the ball in front of Troy’s goal after a deflected pass found its way to her. She converted the opportunity, cutting Troy’s lead to 2-1 with 33:43 still to play.
Troy answered, though. Westfall made a long run up the left side of the field, and Butler’s keeper again left her box to intercept. Westfall was able to cross it to Megan Malott all alone at the goal line, though, who tapped in to extend Troy’s lead back to two with 25:42 left — and Garcia and Westfall took it from there.
The game was a must-win for the Trojans after Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Sidney, the team’s first GWOC American North loss on the season. Troy improved to 7-2-2 overall and 7-1 in division play with the win with only two North games remaining — including a showdown against undefeated division leader Tippecanoe on Oct. 5.
“It all comes down to next Wednesday night against Tipp,” Rasey said. “If we can pull off what many would consider an upset, we could be in position to be co-champions. Obviously, they’re in the driver’s seat, being undefeated. This one tonight was huge for our season, there’s no doubt about that.”
Before that, though, the Trojans travel to Beavercreek Monday for one last tune-up match.
PIQUA — Newton’s Aliya Stine scored the game’s only goal Wednesday night, leading the Indians to a 1-0 victory at Piqua.
Newton hosts Tri-County North on Senior Night Oct. 6.
BEAVERCREEK — The Troy volleyball team dropped its second match of the season Wednesday night, falling to Beavercreek 25-23, 25-14, 25-21.
Troy will look to bounce back at home against Greenville at Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play.
* Girls Golf
ARCANUM — The postseason Greater Western Ohio Conference girls golf tournament was rained out Wednesday, leaving the division races to be decided solely by the preseason tournament.
Piqua won the GWOC American North Division, Tippecanoe was second and Troy was fifth.
The Division I sectional tournament will be played at Yankee Trace on Oct. 5.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.