TERRE HAUTE —
West Vigo and South Vermillion saw their boys soccer seasons come to an end despite spirited efforts through the first halves of the Class A West Vigo Sectional semifinal matches.
The host Vikings (1-13) kept Covington off the scoreboard in the first half of Wednesday’s first match, but the defending champion Trojans broke through in the third minute of the second half when Travis Coleman scored. Zeb Newlin powered into the middle of West Vigo’s defense for a 2-0 lead just three minutes later and scored with 9:57 left to lift the Trojans to a 3-0 win.
“The story of our season, we’ve played good defense all year, just haven’t been able to finish. We’ve struggled to score all year. That was a microchosm of our season,” West Vigo coach Culley DeGroote said.
Covington will face North Putnam, a 4-0 winner against South Vermillion in the second semifinal.
South Vermillion finished 1-14, but the Wildcats did not allow a goal until the 52nd minute of play against the Cougars.
Coach Juan Montañez’s squad was close to getting an equalizer as senior Matt Schawitsch had an opening but couldn’t convert with just over 20 minutes to go.
Caleb Harrison also put a free kick on target from long range but the keeper corralled it moments later.
North Putnam (4-12) scored three times in the final 16 minutes, with Zach Hunter setting up Trae Straziscar and Kyler Jeter scoring from 25 yards out. The final tally was an own goal.
In his first year as coach, Montanez is hoping to gain some traction for a program that has struggled throughout its history.
“We put together about 60 minutes of solid soccer, we just got unlucky with some bounces. Overall from our perspective as coaches, we’ve accomplished a lot this season. Wins-losses no, but as far as making our program better and having people respect us a little bit better … we definitely made them work for this win,” Montanez said. “We’re happy with it, the kids are really happy with it, which is the most important thing anyway. I think was the best game we played as far as having a gameplan and executing it.”
South Vermillion was shut out for the fifth time this season, but the Wildcats were starting four freshman, who will be among nine starters returning in 2014.
“We scored more goals than we have ever, we were only shut out five times. We’ve improved the quality of play and improved the scoreline. It has to take another step before it gets into our favor,” Montanez said.
The Vikings will also return a large crew of players, graduating four-year players Brady Cole and Paden Horsley as well as defender Derrick Bennett.
The Vikings gave solid effort throughout the season to keep teams off the scoreboard and Wednesday night was no different.
“We played a good first half defensively and offensively,” Bennett said. “I thought we were going to come out with a lot of passion after half-time, but [the Trojans] came out with a lot of passion too. Two really good defensive teams going at each other.”
“We were good, just a lot of inexperience, a lot of injuries,” DeGroote said. “We’ve got a lot coming back. Just had a hard time putting together offensive possessions. [The Trojans] did a good job taking Padan Horsley and Justin Kump out.”
Covington coach Ryan Sowers will lead his team into action Saturday looking to repeat as sectional champions. He was proud of how his team responded to a tough first half.
“The biggest thing we had to do was just calm down and play our style. West Vigo did a good job taking us out of our game, which was trying to possess the ball a little more and create space,” Sowers said. “Once we slowed down and did what we needed to do, we were successful. Any time we pay West Vigo, it’s going to be a good game.”
Covington 0 3 — 3
West Vigo 0 0 — 0
C — Travis Coleman, 37:52
C — Zeb Newlin, 34:17
C — Newlin, 9:57
North Putnam 1 3 — 4
South Vermillion 0 0 — 0
NP — Bennett Hazelgrove, 28:35
NP — Trae Straziscar (Zach Hunter), 16:02
NP — Kyler Jeter , 14:05
NP — Own goal
Next — North Putnam (4-12) plays Covington (12-4).