When we last checked in on the Covenant Christian Warriors boys soccer team, they were coming off of a tight, 1-0 defeat at the hands of Guerin Catholic to fall to a record of 3-6. Even though the scoreboard was not necessarily reflecting it, Coach David Pfeiffer was pleased with the growth he was witnessing from game to game. Of their six losses to that point, four had been by only one goal, and another was a 2-0 loss to Cathedral. Their schedule had been difficult, but Pfeiffer was convinced it was preparing his boys for what lay ahead.
Fast forward six weeks and Coach looks like a prophet. Since September 14, the Warriors are 10-2. They have pitched a clean sheet in five of their six tournament contests and outscored their playoff opponents 19-2. Friday night, they will have a chance to avenge last year’s state finals loss to Ft. Wayne Canterbury.
Earlier in the year, Pfeiffer’s main concern was if the role players from the previous year and underclassmen would be able to step up their game and become varsity playmakers by the time the tournament started. They have answered his challenge.
“Ethan Hurt (outside back) has stepped up big time for us. He has done a very good job handling some of the best players on the opposing team and has produced some excellent scoring opportunities while scoring one for himself. Arthur Hinton and Evan Coleman have also stepped up as sophomores. While they don’t have many stats to point this out, their presence and execution of what we are asking of them have been very good,” said Pfeiffer. “Finally, Grant Meadows has been a HUGE impact player for us in the midfield. His positioning and understanding of the defensive mid have freed some of our other players to be more attack-minded which has helped to generate more offense.”
These developments were on display in big wins over substantially larger schools in Plainfield, Lawrence Central, and Avon. Despite being one of the smallest schools in central Indiana, Covenant Christian had no issues standing toe-to-toe with the big boys.
“Looking back on our schedule, I believe we had the TOUGHEST schedule in 1A relative to all the other 1A schools,” Pfeiffer said. “It was obvious that teams wanted to beat us, especially early in the season, because of the success we had last year. Once we got through August, we could sense that the target shifted off our backs some and we were able to settle into what we wanted to do more. The rest of the season prepared us mentally for the post-season. It took time and lots of constructive conversations with the team to make adjustments, and fortunately, it all started clicking at the right time.”
The Warriors faced a few familiar foes on their way back to the championship. They defeated a strong Covington team in the second round of the sectional, 4-2. The margin of victory matched that of the year before. The semi-state was also a repeat of 2017 with Covenant facing Providence. The Warriors were able to claim their fourth victory over the Pioneers in the last two years, with the last three coming by way of a shutout.
Which brings them to Friday when they will face a Canterbury team that defeated them 2-1 a year ago. This year’s Cavaliers come into the contest with an 11-7-4 record. Like their opponent, they also play a brutal schedule to prepare them for their tournament run.
While there is a healthy respect, there will be no fear coming from the Covenant Christian squad.
“I’m excited for Friday. The boys are ready and eager to play. They are battle tested and ready, not content with the success we’ve had in the post-season. They are hungry for a State title!” exclaimed Pfeiffer. “With the number of guys who played last year, they know what to expect with the environment and the team we play. This will be the third time we’ve met Fort Wayne Canterbury in the final (2012, 2017, 2018) so the boys are ready to take care of some unfinished business!”
Kickoff will be 6 pm at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium. We will be live tweeting and providing video highlights through our twitter account – @circlecityconf.