DEMOTTE | Emblazoned on the back of Covenant Christian coach Aaron de Jager’s shirt is the motto “No substitutes, no problem.”
Host Covenant Christian was true to those words on the pitch Tuesday in the opening game of the Class A sectional against Kouts.
The Knights (10-8-1) refused to get worn down despite carrying just 13 girls on the roster and turned back Kouts 2-1 to advance to Thursday’s semifinals.
“I’ve got girls who are hurting,” de Jager said. “I’ve got shin splints, I’ve got ankles. We’ve gone through so much bloody tape, I can’t imagine.”
The Knights will battle Boone Grove (11-4), which beat Hebron 1-0 in the second game. Rensselaer faces Hanover Central in the second semifinal.
Covenant Christian junior Hannah Lins kept battling on the offensive end and got the game-winner at the 70-minute, 36-second mark when she powered in her own rebound.
“This is the first ever win for our seniors and our whole team in sectionals so we wanted it so bad, and we did it,” said Lins, who got an assist on the game’s first goal.
“We were not going to lose it for our seniors.”
The win was extra sweet for the Knights who lost to the Fillies 1-0 in the regular season.
The game was pretty evenly matched as Kouts (7-6) had 9 shots on goal to Covenant’s 6.
“Our defense has been playing together for four years, and they don’t even have to talk back there,” de Jager said.
Sophia Van Keppel scored on an assist from Lins at the 14:41 mark to put Covenant up 1-0.
Maranda Birmingham got the equalizer for Kouts at the 60:29 mark on an assist from her younger sister, Gracie Birmingham.
Kouts coach Tim Schwartz said it was a tough match, but one he was glad to be a part of.
“They’re tough on defense, and our girls gave it all they had and theirs did, too,” he said. “That’s why it's fun to watch high school soccer because both sides were giving it their all.”
Boone’s Emily Martinze broke a scoreless tie against Hebron (7-7-1) with a goal at the 45:12 mark on an assist from Amy Guerrero for the game's only score.
“The 28 minutes to the end was a harrowing experience, no doubt,” Boone coach Chad Roggow said. “We did a pretty good job on defense, limiting them to very few shots.”