Senior-laden Troy squad eyes success on the pitch

By: Timothy Pontzer | Troy Times | Published September 12, 2017

TROY — Employing a veteran lineup, Troy High boys soccer coach Jim Stachura has high hopes for the season.

“Experience is definitely the strength of the club,” Stachura said after a Sept. 6 practice. “These guys have been through a lot together and want to finish what they’ve started. They themselves have built up a strong unity, and I’m proud of how far they’ve come.”

The Colts feature 19 seniors, utilizing only three total underclassmen. Stachura said it is the most seniors he has ever had on one roster, and from that comes great expectations. However, he has not posted any set goals for Troy, keeping with the squad’s motto of simply going game by game.

At press time, the Colts were 5-2-1 overall.

“I want them to fix problems every day rather than saying, ‘We must win a league or district,’” Stachura said. “We just want to get better every time we step on the field. When we do that, it takes pressure off the boys.”

One of Stachura’s top players echoed that mindset, believing it to pay off.

“We definitely have a lot of experience, and with it a lot of pressure as well,” senior midfielder Darius Feier said. “We’re expected to do big things, but we just take it game by game — that’s our motto. We just focus on getting the win each day and improve from game to game.”

A team captain, Feier enters his third year on varsity. He is committed to play at the University of Detroit Mercy next fall.

“Because we’ve played together for so long, we have great chemistry, especially with the seniors,” Feier said. “We all play for one another.”

Stachura called Feier a dynamic player, someone he can trust as a leader on and off the pitch.

“(Feier) is such a good athlete,” Stachura said. “He’s dangerous in the box. He will play in the back in college, but we really need his talents up front, and he’s willing to do whatever we need.”

Stachura remarked that Feier is not needed on his back line due to the depth already there. He cited a pair of senior center backs in Connor Bloomingdale and Matt Panella as the leaders of that unit.

“We’re very good in the back,” Stachura explained. “We have great, organized team defending. (Bloomingdale) can play multiple positions. He’s a great athlete, a fantastic ball striker and a great communicator. (Panella) will do all the little things for us, and they both play really well off each other.”

A team captain, Panella enters his third year on varsity.

“We’re comfortable because we’ve played together for so long,” Panella said. “But there is that pressure on us, because we’re leaving behind our legacy. There’s a lot of pressure to finish off strong.”

In goal, Stachura employs two seniors, splitting time between Nolan Regan and Will Myers. 

“We want to make it a competition, and both played in the preseason and regular season,” Stachura said. “If one of them is running really well, we’ll ride them because it’s such a streaky position. But if we need to make a change, they’re both capable. Both guys are long and tall, and can get to corners and crosses.”

One small area of concern for Stachura is on the offensive side.

“We’re creating chances and are very capable up top — it’s just the final product that is the problem,” Stachura said. “Actually knocking the ball in the goal is what we can’t seem to get. We have some guys showing some signs of life lately, so I’m not too worried. Even when we don’t have goal scorers, the seniors have the ability to keep the ball and make it tough on opposing teams.”

Troy will aim for its first district title since 2010. A redrawn grouping sees the Colts join Berkley High, Royal Oak High, Birmingham Seaholm, Birmingham Groves, Birmingham Brother Rice, Bloomfield Hills High and rival Troy Athens.

“This is going to be one of the toughest districts in the state,” Stachura admitted. “It’s brutal. You have three top-end (Oakland Activities Association) Red teams, Brother Rice is never an easy out, and Groves is very good. It will be well-coached and very tough.”

The Colts will be well-prepared for the playoff gauntlet, playing in the OAA Red.

“The Red will be extremely tight,” Stachura said. “You can take six of the eight teams and pull them out of a hat and make a case for them. Rochester (High) and (Rochester Hills) Stoney Creek are probably the favorites, but coach (Todd Heugh) will have Athens ready, and we think we’ll be good.

“This is a good group of kids. We’re focused on doing the small things. When it comes (to) playoff time, that’s what matters. We feel like we’ll have a chance to win some games.”