BY JAKE LOURIM
TROY — There was an air of change before the Troy soccer team opened its season Monday night athome.
Head coach Brian Zawislak did not coach because of the birth of his second daughter early Sunday morning, the Colts returned only three starters from last year’s team and they came out in a 4-3-3 formation.
Once the game started, though, it sure looked like Troy soccer.
Senior captain Ian Fox scored twice to lead a strong offensive effort in Troy’s 4-2 win over Walled Lake Western.
“I’m really proud of the effort of the boys,” said assistant coach Alan Zakaria, who filled in for Zawislak. “I thought we played a good brand of soccer. Overall, it was a great performance from start to finish.”
The Colts tried to fit several new players together in the lineup, and Zakaria said the early games will go a long way toward solidifying the chemistry.
“Where the players play, where they feel comfortable, how they fit in,” Zakaria said. “You learn a lot in the first part of the season.”
One of the changes was Troy’s formation, a 4-3-3 with junior Ben Holland as goalie.
The new starting lineup featured Danny Berger, Adam Zaretti, Brandon Riddle and John Mancuso along the back line. Josh Brodbine, Zach Doepke and freshman Mitch Guitar anchored the midfield, and Aaron Faison, Fox and Nate Bladecki started on the front line.
The key to the game was Troy’s ability to open the field up for its attackers. The extra man up top allowed plenty of opportunities in the open field.
“It all comes down to offensive shape,” Zakaria said, “opening the field up from defense to offense, from compact to the open field.”
Fox scored the first of the season for Troy. He ran down the goalkeeper and took a touch to the right to pry the ball away. After escaping the goalie, it was an easy finish.
Doepke continued the scoring by winning a one-on-one battle with the goalie and tapping the ball in. Western captain Mike Camilleri struck back with just 3:13 left in the first half, but Troy quickly prevented the Warriors from maintaining momentum.
Fox scored his second only eight minutes into the second half by directing a ball from Guitar inside the near post.
“I saw him cutting back post and tried to get it over the defenders,” Guitar said.
Guitar said he was comfortable in his first varsity game.
“(I’m feeling) really good,” he said. “The team’s playing well. We’re moving the ball and
Bladecki was the last to get forward midway through the second half on an assist by Josh Brodbine. Again, the Colts used three men up top to push the attack into the final third.
Once there, it was just about finishing chances.
Western added a consolation goal when Trevor Pepperman blistered a long shot into the upper-left corner of the net.
Despite the two goals, Zakaria was pleased with his new goalie’s performance.
“He was great off his line,” the coach said. “He had great command of the box. I think he’s one of the top keepers in the area.”
The Colts face Walled Lake Northern Wednesday at home. They’ve built up a bit of a rivalry
with the Knights, winning in the 2010 district final 1-0 as well as 6-1 in the regular season last year and 2-1 in overtime in the regional final.
They’ll have one more chance to clean up the lineup Saturday with a three game tournament at Warren De La Salle before the league slate starts next Tuesday against Clarkston.
”We’ll continue to get comfortable with where everyone plays and the rhythm and patterns of play,” Zakaria said. “Those are things we’re going to continue to harp on and try to improve on.”
Zakaria expected Zawislak to return Wednesday.
(Jake Lourim is a junior at Troy High School and a member of the S.H.P. Media Group / www.northoaklandsports.com Student Correspondence Program. He is publisher of website www.troycoltsportsupdate.com and a member of the Troy school newspaper editorial staff. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)