BY GREG FLINT firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — WEST VIGO, Ind. — The Covington soccer team won its second consecutive sectional title at West Vigo by defeating North Putnam 4-0. The Trojans took the lead just fifteen minutes into the contest and scored a second goal less than a minute later.
The team was nervous when they started their game on Wednesday versus host West Vigo, but came out more relaxed in the championship match with the Cougars.
“I think we had a much better start today,” said Covington head coach Ryan Sowers. “We were calmer than the other day and I think that helped us execute.”
The Trojans try to play a possession game, building their attack slowly with players moving to space to give their teammates as many options as possible.
Getting the lead on goals by Zeb Newlin and Justin Long did not cause the Trojans to lose focus as it did in their previous game. They maintained control and spread the field, causing their opponents to have to chase the ball.
“Yes, I think we played smarter today,” said Sowers about the control. “I think we were also mentally tough out there and that translates to being physically tough in our attack.”
That willingness to keep attacking was exemplified in the way the team scored its third goal. Newlin got a breakaway and the Cougar keeper came out to challenge him.
The goalie deflected the ball with Newlin slipping on the play and landing on his back. He jumped to his feet and managed to tap the ball into the goal before the keeper could recover.
In the second half, North Putnam became more aggressive and the game settled into a back-and-forth contest. The Trojans kept the bulk of the possession, but the Cougars were able to get some shots with Covington keeper Dylan Moore making several spectacular saves.
Late in the game, Covington got the ball inside the six and had a half dozen shots that either were saved by the North Putnam keeper or which bounced off a defender or teammate.
Finally, Covington’s Josh Allen got an open look and sent the ball into the net for a goal that made it 4-0.
“Two sectional shutouts are good to see,” said Sowers of the 3-0 and 4-0 wins over West Vigo and North Putnam. “Our defense was aggressive, but I think it was our attitude that was the difference.”
Asked to explain, Sowers said, “We didn’t come out cocky, but we came out with a confidence that said ‘We expect to win this game’ and that was different than last year.”
That attitude will be tested, as the Trojans will likely face a top-25 team in the regional. Unlike last year when a regional game was unknown territory, the team now knows what to expect.
“We will need to play our best game,” said Sowers of the upcoming contest, “but we’ve seen it before. We’ve got a lot of guys who played last year, but some new ones, too. We need to use our experience to go out and play our game and just see what happens.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at email@example.com