By Josh Brown
TROY — Tippecanoe goalkeeper Claire Hinkle already made history earlier in the week.
Wednesday night, the Red Devil girls soccer team did, as well.
Lauren Lester bent a 30-yard shot just inside the far post late in the first half, Hinkle added to her school record number of career shutouts and Tippecanoe clinched its first ever Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division title in its first season in the league, holding off the Troy Trojans 1-0 Wednesday night at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Tippecanoe improved to 11-1-1 with the win, 9-0 in the American North with one game left to play. The loss was the second in division play for Troy (7-4-2, 7-2 GWOC American North), and with Sidney holding a 7-1-1 record, the Red Devils clinched the championship outright — also the first for Tippecanoe as a school as a member of the league.
“Yes, we are,” Tippecanoe coach Brandon Baker said with a smile. “The girls understood what the task was, and we’ve been in this situation before, being in the Central Buckeye Conference. The girls understood what we needed to do. It’s that first GWOC title, and that makes it even better, being able to win it the first year. These girls know that we can go far in the postseason, and it motivates them a bit more. Especially going undefeated in the league — that’s hard to do.”
Troy potentially could have forced a tie for the league title with a win, but the Devils beat the Trojans 1-0 for the second straight season — two years ago, the Trojans defeated Tippecanoe 3-0 in what has become a tough and entertaining rivalry over the years.
“Tipp’s a very good team,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said. “Of course we’re disappointed that we didn’t get the result we wanted, but I’m still proud of the effort the girls gave. We held a high-scoring team to only one goal. We have a lot to walk away from this game being proud of. Even though we’re disappointed, we can’t hang our heads.”
“I told the girls before the game to throw all the records out,” Baker said. “It’s a rivalry game, but this year, it means a lot more than it used to in the past. They know that, and they’ve got friends on the Troy team, and the atmosphere around it just makes it an awesome game. And we came out ready to play.”
In fact, Tippecanoe made a run at Troy’s goal on the opening play of the game, forcing Troy keeper Molly Miller to make a pair of tough saves in the game’s first minute. From there, though, the game settled into a physical, back-and-forth battle for the midfield, with both teams pressing the goal here and there but not mounting a serious threat.
Still, that battle began to swing Tippecanoe’s way.
“Their defense starts in the midfield,” Rasey said. “They’ve got very good midfielders and good backs to support them. That makes life a lot easier on a keeper, and she made the few saves she had to tonight.”
Miller was solid for the Trojans, too, though, playing for normal starting keeper Arianna Garcia, fending off a number of Devil corner kick attempts early and coming out of the box to cut off potential breakaways before they happened.
“We’re blessed with two excellent keepers,” Rasey said. “Unfortunately, Arianna has had to miss the last couple games due to injury, so Molly had to step up in a big moment and she played well again.”
Lester’s shot, though, no goalie was going to stop.
With 8:20 to go in the first half, Lester got the ball near the right sideline and had some space from roughly 30 yards out. She hit a left-footed shot toward the far post that looked like it was headed wide and high — but it bent and sank down just inside the upper-left corner of the goal, and the Devils led 1-0.
The Devils nearly added an insurance goal late twice late in the half, but a non-goalie save on a ball with 1:10 to go and a diving save by Miller in the final 10 seconds kept Troy within striking distance at the break.
Troy never got any quality scoring chances in the second half, though, because when the Trojans did get the ball behind the Tippecanoe defense, Hinkle was able to come out of the goal and collect the ball or clear it away before any shots could be taken. The Devils pressured Troy’s goal for the most of the last 10 minutes of the game, but Troy unleashed one last counterattack in the final minute.
Three separate times in that final minute, though, Hinkle was able to cut off Troy breakaway tries, recording her school-record 32nd career shutout. She made seven saves on the night — the most she’s been forced to make in a game all season. On Monday, she broke the old record of 30 in a 6-0 shutout of Greenville.
“That comes with experience,” Baker said. “With her being in the goal for three years, having all those shutouts, she helps us a lot. She’s seen a lot of things, and we trust her back there. The girls all trust her, and that’s the biggest thing.”
Tippecanoe hosts Beavercreek on Monday before traveling to Butler on Oct. 12 to finish league play. Troy, meanwhile, hosts Centerville Saturday night and travels to Miamisburg Monday before finishing the season at Piqua Oct. 12.
“Troy-Tipp is always going to be a hard-fought game,” Rasey said. “It’s turned into a healthy rivalry over the last few years, and a lot of these girls play club together. Add in playing for a league title, and naturally it’s going to carry added intensity. Environments like tonight are why you play high school soccer.”
* Girls Golf
CENTERVILLE — The Tippecanoe girls golf team finished ninth at the Division I girls golf sectional tournament Wednesday at Yankee Trace, with Troy finishing 12th, ending the season for both teams.
Taylor Hudson led the Red Devils with an 89, missing out on an individual trip to district by losing in a playoff to Beavercreek’s Sarah O’Conner and Stivers’ Loren Morland. Lydia Stueve shot 105, Mandi Kreinbrink shot 107, Addi Richardson shot 117 and Ashlyn Herzong shot 132.
Carrigan Browning led the Trojans with a 102, Riley Johnson shot 113, Hannah Simister shot 115, Madison Stookey shot 133 and Lauren Garlow shot 139.
GREENVILLE — The Tippecanoe volleyball team improved to 14-5, 10-2 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division with a sweep at Greenville Wednesday night, winning 25-10, 25-17, 25-12.
Taylor Prall had 15 kills and five aces, Emily Shuk had six kills and two blocks, Isabel Crow had 28 assists and Abby Hughes had 11 digs and three aces.
Tippecanoe travels to Sidney Saturday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.