Survive and advance: Covenant headed back to state semis after win over Christchurch

Photo: Ryan Yemen

Coming as the top seed, the Covenant boys soccer team earned the right to host its VISAA Division II quarterfinal thanks to an outstanding 14-win regular season. And while the majority of this team will play again next fall on the home turf, the Eagles made sure its lone senior, midfielder Robert Woods played his final game at home was a good one. Covenant struck early against Christchurch and while the Seahorses were able to threaten, there was no upset on the day with host walking off the field with a hard fought 2-1 victory.


“We wanted to be able play this game here, obviously because it’s easier not driving, we’ve got our fans but of course there’s the sentimental part — this is Robert’s last game here,” said Covenant’s Josiah McCaskill.


It took just four minutes for Covenant to get on the board. McCaskill was able make it 1-0 for the Eagles when he finished a break away and split a pair of defensemen on a pass created by Michael Seelman from midfield that took the perfect bounce on a saturated field.


“On the goal the ball just kind of skipped in when the defense made a mistake,” McCaskill said. “The surface was tough today and I think we had the advantage practicing on it when it had rained Friday. It was still hard for us, but I think we


The Eagles saw Soren Scott nearly come up with a goal seven minutes later but the shot sailed wide to the left. But just over three minutes later Covenant caught a break on a hand ball inside the box on a crossing pass. That allowed Gulio Degiorgis to take a PK, and while he slipped in the mud on his initial run the ball, he did not make contact and was allowed to reattempt and he did not disappoint the second go around with a hard shot to the top right corner of the net to make it 2-0.


“I slipped on the first go around and was lucky enought to get another shot,” Degiorgis said. “I knew where I wanted it to go, knew what I wanted to do and I’m glad it worked out because it was slick down there.”


From there, Christchurch woke up and challenged Covenant. Inside of two minutes until the break, Ryan Richardson was able to uncork a beautiful shot from 25 yards out and cut it to 2-1 going into the break.


“That goal was amazing,” McCasklill said. “I mean it really was amazing, a great shot but we were able to hold them to that. After that we said nobody gets behind us and we were able to do that.”


In the second half the Eagles went into full defensive mode giving goal keeper Will Maupin all the help he could ask for on the back end while still applying occasional pressure up front. Maupin came up with a trio of second half saves but none of them being too complicated. The Eagles almost got another goal from McCaskill with 22 minutes to play but it hit the post and kicked out. While the Seahorses pressured late by moving up their defense into attack mode, the Eagles weathered it and were able to wrap up the win without giving up a clean look at the goal.


“We had a lapse a the end of the first half that was disappointing,” said Covenant coach Bryan Verbugge. “But any playoff win is a good win though.”


Covenant now faces the fourth seed in North Cross at City Stadium in Richmond on Thursday. The Eagles beat the Raiders 3-0 back on October 10 when North Cross was the second ranked team in Division II. Covenant remains just win away from playing for its first state title since 2013. This is the second year in a row the Eagles have made it to the state final four.