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Troy 9U boys finished

“Mom, I’m so mad.”

With that simple proclamation Clay LaBrant shared the sentiments of most of his teammates after the Troy 9U boys’ tournament team learned they would not be playing in the ARPA state soccer championship today in Dothan.

The Troy team lost its first game 2-1 to Fort Payne, but won its second 5-2 against Oxford. Because the tournament was pool play, getting into the championship meant Oxford would have to defeat Fort Payne in the last game of the day on Saturday. When that did not happen, disappointment was in the air.

“Sometimes it doesn’t fall in your favor,” coach Daniel Earles said. “I’m disappointed in the outcome (of the first game). Because in my opinion, we were the better team.”

Earles said mental mistakes and a lack of aggression plagued the Troy boys in the tournament opener.

“Fort Payne came out against us from the start,” he said. “They got everything they went after.”

And the Troy team was not aggressive, until the last five minutes of the game.

“In the first game they didn’t really fight for the ball until the last five minutes of the game,” Earles said. “You can’t wait until the last little bit to start.”

Instead, Earles said, the players had to battle back, depending on a goal by Toler Richburg for the only score.

“If we had played the first half like we played the last five minutes, we would’ve won,” Earles said.

So during the break between the two games, the Troy coaches worked with the team.

“The coaches and some of the dads actually played against (the team),” Earles said. “We were trying to encourage them that even though you can’t use your hands, you can push with your body to get to the ball.”

The results were evident in the afternoon game against Oxford.

“They were a much better team in the second game,” Earles said.

Dawson Hamlin, D.J. Brooks, Richburg and Adam Bensinger scored in the second game.

Earles, who said he coached several of the players since the early years of soccer, was proud of the team’s sportsmanship.

“Even in the first game they held their heads up,” he said.