TROY — Two years, three goals, and a pair of championships left ever-so-painfully out of reach.
If the girls on the Troy High soccer team have their way, the third time will, in fact, be the charm.
“That’s the big motivation for us and for what we want to do this year,” sophomore midfielder Sarah Troccoli said of how the past two springs have ended. “We know we have a team good enough to finish what we started.”
In 2012 and 2011, the Colts reached the Division 1 state final, only to fall to Okemos High 2-0 last year and 1-0 to Novi High the spring before.
“To have girls end their career like that, some of them with two straight finals losses, was pretty tough,” Troccoli said. “We don’t want that to happen again.”
The team did graduate some talent from a squad that went 19-3-3 a year ago, but also brought plenty back.
Senior captain Madison Hirsch, the second-leading scorer in 2012, is back at forward, and senior keeper Alison Hollan, an All-State player coach Brian Zawislak called “the best goalie in the state,” also returns.
There’s a solid core up front, and although Jamie Hawkey is the lone starting defender back, Zawislak showed no concern at developing a well-rounded team.
“The experience that we have is so key,” Zawislak explained. “I mean, we have so many girls that have played in big games and have been here for three or four years now. We have nine seniors that are all leaders, and if they keep everyone focused, we’re going to be all right.”
The Colts were 1-1 at press time, beating Berkley High in an opener before falling to Bloomfield Hills Marian — the defending D-2 champ — 1-0 in the final game before spring break.
“We know there’s a lot of work to do yet, and the Marian game showed that,” Troccoli said. “But we’re confident. We feel like, if we play for each other, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
Zawislak was taking nothing for granted but said he’s working with a team that can challenge for the first state title since 2003.
“We’d like to get back and get another chance,” he said. “They have been very focused. Even before tryouts got going, they were so committed to this. They’ve put themselves in a position to do what they want.”