GREENCASTLE, Ind. — Effort can take a team just so far and no further.
When Covington lost to Tri-West Hendricks in the second game of the Greencastle Regional soccer tournament 5-0, that point came with just over 25 minutes gone in the first half.
At that point, the Trojans were caught chasing the ball and the Bruins scored the first of their three goals before intermission.
The second Tri-West goal came two minutes later off a corner kick that Covington could not clear. The third came on a shot that the Trojans were not used to seeing — a blast from over 30 yards away from goal that a diving goalkeeper Spencer McCone could not stop.
“We played a different, more defensive formation in the first half and I think we did pretty well with it,” said Covington coach Ryan Sowers. “They’re a team with good ball touches and they kept constant pressure on us.”
Covington got its first good look at goal about five minutes into the second half, but the shot sailed wide. Moments later, they got caught ball chasing again and Tri-West picked up their fourth goal of the game.
Midway through the second half, both teams began to go deeper into their benches and the game settled down into Covington pushing up field whenever they could while Tri-West concentrated on keeping possession.
The Bruins got their final goal shortly thereafter on a nice back-heel kick that caught the Trojans by surprise.
Covington continued to press for a goal, but simply could not find the net for the remainder of the contest although they did get some set pieces that came close.
“Their team has a different level of skill than anyone we’ve seen,” said Sowers about the Bruins. “We saw them make moves we’ve never seen players make, let alone know how to defend.”
This was the second year in a row that Covington lost in the regional opener, but this was a totally different type of game from the one they played last season.
In that one, the Trojans were beaten by a bigger, stronger George Washington team, while this year Covington could hold their own body-to-body, but not when it came to finesse — the Tri-West passing was constantly on target.
“There’s really nothing they don’t do well,” said Sowers. “They didn’t do anything really outstanding, but they didn’t do anything wrong.”
One measure of a team is how it faces adversity and here Sowers was very satisfied with his squad.
“The work effort we showed all game was great,” he explained. “But when we were down 5-0 with five minutes to go in the game, we were running all over the field fighting for the ball.
“Look at [midfielder] Travis [Coleman]. At the end, he was back in the box, playing defense to make sure that they didn’t score again. That’s a great lesson for the younger players to see.
“With their ability, the outcome could have been much worse, but we played hard and did what we practiced and really only had that one bad six minutes in the first half. Otherwise, we played hard and as well as we could. I’m really proud of this team.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at email@example.com