Troup on road against Benedictine

Published 4:30 pm Friday, April 23, 2021

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in playoff mode for a while now.

Facing two must-win games toward the end of the regular season, Troup beat Hardaway and Spencer to advance to the Class AAAA state soccer playoffs.

Had Troup lost either one of those games, it would have failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Now, Troup will look to keep its season going when it travels to Savannah to face Benedictine in the opening round of the playoffs on Friday at 6 p.m.

The winner will advance to the second round to play either Baldwin or Thomas Country Central.

Troup, which is in the state playoffs for the first time since 2017, headed into a showdown with Hardaway on April 7 with the season on the line.

In the game’s closing moments, freshman Diego Merida made a penalty kick to give the Tigers a 2-1 victory.

Earlier in the half, with Hardaway leading 1-0, Bernny Velasquez scored to pull Troup even, setting the stage for the late fireworks.

Merida was fouled while making a run toward the goal, and he converted the ensuing penalty kick to save the day.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” said Merida, whose twin brother Dennis Merida is also a standout player on the team. “If we lost this game, we can’t make the playoffs, so it’s like the whole season is on my hands. I just had to make it.”

Troup followed that up with a one-sided win over Kendrick to secure Region 2-AAAA’s number three seed.

Troup’s opponent is a Benedictine team that finished second in Region 3-AAAA.