TROY — If past successes served as a guarantee to future, predicting champs from one season to the next would be a rather simple.
But as is the case every year in high school sports, roster turnover can sometimes serve as the greatest equalizer.
Or, as may be the case with the Troy High girls soccer team, it may serve as a perfect motivator.
“We knew coming in this was going to be a process,” coach Brian Zawislak said last week of the 2014 season. “At the same time, we knew we weren’t going to take an easy schedule. So people may see Troy High and be surprised with the record, but I’ve been happy with the progress. … We’re excited with the challenge this season offers.”
Last June, this was a Troy team celebrating a Division 1 state championship after a 2-1 victory against Grandville High.
Some 10 months later, this is a Troy team that brought back just three starters and sat with a 1-3-2 record at press time.
An influx of freshmen and sophomores are still finding their footing, while the few returning vets are trying to get everyone acclimated.
“It’s really a new team,” said four-year-starting forward Phylisha Drayton, who is headed to play at the University of Detroit Mercy next year. “We have a lot of inexperienced girls right now. I think the key is becoming comfortable with one another. I can’t say I’m surprised just yet (with the start). It takes time to figure things out.”
Troy’s losses haven’t exactly come to pushovers, either.
The team dropped games to Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, two highly ranked teams in Division 1 and 2, respectively, before falling to Auburn Hills Avondale.
“The truth of it is, we started very slow last year, too, and then peaked at the right time,” Zawislak said. “We’re working through some injuries right now, which doesn’t help. But I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum, where you start a year ranked No. 1 and you have such huge expectations, or you have a team like we do and you face some adversity that makes you stronger in the long-run. As coaches, we know the chemistry isn’t there yet, but we’re working at finding that lineup where everyone is comfortable.”
Drayton, who said she vividly remembers her time as a freshman, when she needed the time and seasoning to really grasp what the varsity game was about, expressed her confidence in turning the 2014 season into a winner.
“The talent is here,” she said. “It’s a matter of finding that confidence we need, and that will happen.”
Zawislak stressed the importance of doing what isn’t always easy for high school kids — separating one year from the next.
“Each team has it’s own identity, and figuring that out is a process,” he said.
Still, looking ahead, he also knows the possibilities are endless with some on-the-fly experiences.
“When you look at the draw and where we’ll be, we’re going to be in a district that will be competitive and one we could be competitive in,” he said. “Then you look ahead to a regional — sometimes surviving the district is tougher. We still have the tools here to make another long playoff run. We’re excited about the challenge and the opportunity.”