Trojans Eliminate Rockets, 3-0 - Titusville Herald: Sports

Trojans Eliminate Rockets, 3-0

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Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2018 5:00 am

MEADVILLE — For the third year in a row, the Titusville Rockets boys soccer team had its season come to an end with a loss in the District 10 Quarterfinals.

The bright spot is that the program has clearly established itself as a legitimate playoff contender with a first-round victory in each of these past three seasons. However, for Titusville coach Rich Whalen and his Rockets, Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Greenville at Benson Field in Meadville left them with the feeling of a task left incomplete.

“We’re disappointed,” Whalen said. “We had some high hopes for this team going into the season. Here we are again out after the second round. The first year, we were happy to be in the playoffs. Last year, we were quite disappointed in losing, and this year is more of the same. We really thought there was some talent on this team, but we never quite got it right.”

Steve Jaussen scored two goals for Greenville, who moves on to Tuesday’s semifinal against Mercyhurst Prep. Colton Osborne added a goal and two assists, while Ethan Hause also picked up an assist. Evan Cianci delivered the shutout in goal for the Trojans (14-3-1).

Out of the gate, the Rockets (10-9-1) looked like themselves when they survived their first-round contest against Sharon on Monday. Titusville was on the attack for the first 10 minutes of the contest, but was called for being offside twice during that period.

From that point on, the ball rarely crossed back over midfield in the Rockets’ favor, as Greenville was able to pass the ball effectively to create a plethora of scoring chances.

Titusville goalkeeper Braden Sprong made 11 saves during an onslaught of a first half, which featured leaping saves and one-on-one deflections around the net.

“Braden had a spectacular game,” Whalen said. “He kept us in the game and saved some tough point-blank shots.”

Even with Sprong playing an A+ game in net, the Trojans inevitably were able to get on the scoreboard.

Hause stole the ball from a Rocket at the 40-yard line, and immediately passed the ball to Jaussen who scored the first tally at the 27:40 mark. About two minutes later, Greenville executed a cross pass from Hause to Osborne to go up by two goals with 25:13 left.

“There were a couple of times where we were caught ball-watching,” Whalen said. “We watched the ball instead of the man we were marking. Then, they would slip it past us, and they were really good at that. The passes were quality and finishes were usually quality. We had some opportunities like that of our own that we didn’t take advantage of.”

Titusville had a golden opportunity to answer with 19:59 left in the half. Cade Skinner was fouled by a Trojan defender in the goalie box and was awarded a penalty kick. However, Cianci made the save on Skinner’s shot to keep the Rocket off the scoreboard as the game remained 2-0 in Greenville’s favor at the intermission.

“Not scoring the penalty kick was an important point of the game,” Whalen said. “The keeper made a great save.”

Greenville looked to put the game away as soon as the second-half whistle sounded. The Trojans kept the pressure on the Rockets, and didn’t let Titusville get a shot on goal in the half until 21:30 was left on the clock.

By that time, the Trojans had added an insurance goal when Jaussen scored for the second time on a breakaway opportunity following a pass from Osborne.

“You could see as the game wore on, Greenville started to assert themselves, getting more confident, playing better, and we did not,” Whalen said. “They were playing some strong defense. What happens when things start to fall apart on a team is that when you finally get the opportunity, you haven’t touched the ball in a while and then you start mis-touching and trying to do too much. Then not doing enough. You just never get that right balance between assertiveness and having your body relaxed. I felt like we just never had that balance.”

Titusville ends the season with a 10-9-1 record and the accomplishment of another playoff victory.

“The positive things are that I think we came out and were aggressive and ready to play,” Whalen said. “We had a very good first 20 minutes even though they scored a goal or two on us because I think we played well. I know the effort was there today. Mentally, we were much better prepared than the last game. I’m very proud of the boys. They’ve had a very nice season. We’ll continue to try to build this program as we move forward.”

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