STATE CHAMPS: 18U FC Troy Arsenal soccer team wins eighth state championship thanks to powerful offense
Published 3:30 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015
For the eighth time the 18U FC Troy Arsenal soccer team has the won the state championship.
Troy won three of the four matches in the Dothan over the weekend and won a tiebreaker between Opelika and Prattville to claim the championship.
“These kids really stuck with it and they never gave up,” said Troy head coach Doug McLendon. “They stuck with me and they didn’t lose faith in me. It’s really gratifying to get them one (championship).”
Troy began the group play session with a match up with Opelika. Going into the tournament McLendon and the team believed that the match up with Opelika could be the toughest of the tournament.
Opelika entered the tournament as the defending state champions, having beat Troy 1-0 last year in a highly emotional game.
“There was controversial call at the end,” McLendon said. “There was a lot of animosity, not between the players, but for the officials. We felt like we needed revenge, and we thought that was going to be our toughest battle.”
Troy got revenge, defeating Opelika 5-1.
Troy’s next opponent was Eufaula, which was a rematch of the district finals. Troy won again, defeating Eufaula 5-2.
“Eufaula is always a big rival for us,” McLendon said. “They are our district mate so we see them every year. These players know each other really well, and they have a very intense rivalry.”
Troy entered day two of the tournament in first place, allowing rest for key players and those who had picked up yellow cards on Saturday. The Troy team dominated Dothan, 8-0, setting up a pivotal match with Prattville. Prattville was able to come a way with hard-fought 1-0 victory.
“It was a knock-down, drag out war,” McLendon said. “It was a very physical game. We had one kid that ended up with a sprained ankle. We had a hard time scoring. We had scoring chances, but the goalkeeper knocked down three shots.”
The loss did not mean the end for Troy, though. Opelika beat Eufaula 3-0 to force a three-way tie, which Troy won based on the point system.
“It came down to points,” McLendon said. “We scored more points than anybody. We had enough offense this time. We always have a good defense, and we try to score enough goals to win but this time we had a powerful offense.”
Despite the loss to Prattville, McLendon knew his team deserved to walk away champions.
“I guess we kind of backed into it, but in the end we were the better team overall,” McLendon said. “I would say we were better than Prattville.”