Both the Trinity Lutheran girls and boys soccer teams will play in uncharted sectional territory this week.
The Cougars girls will play in their first-ever postseason tournament at Lawrenceburg, while the boys take on the newly formed Jac-Cen-Del Sectional.
Girls eyeing finals in first run
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Cougars girls soccer coach Jeff Nolting said he couldn’t have asked for a better draw.The Cougars will play Southwestern (Hanover) in the first-round Tuesday.Last week, the Cougars bested the Rebels 5-2 behind three goals from sophomore Maddie Roark.
Should the Cougars win, they will face the winner of South Ripley and Switzerland County before taking on Class A No. 5 Lawrenceburg in the championship Saturday.
“We’re really pleased. We’re on the opposite of the favorite,Lawrenceburg,” Nolting said. “We’re feeling really good. We drew Southwestern, who we had relative success against this past week. I think we can go there, compete and possibly get to the finals.”
While the Cougars (7-7) played well against the Rebels in the recent matchup, Nolting said his team needs to be prepared for adjustments, especially since one goal was off a penalty kick and another score was a Rebels own goal.
“It’s always hard playing two matches against the same opponent this close,” Nolting said. “You never know what you’re going to get. When sectional starts, it’s a whole new season almost. I think, more than anything, we need to stay composed and not do too much.
“They’re going to come out with intensity. We need to pass the ball and make opportunities. The defense needs to stay in front of their attackers.”
Roark has emerged as the Cougars’ superstar this season with 31 goals (seven hat tricks) and six assists.
“I know they’re going to try and mark (Roark) and give her something she hasn’t seen before,” Nolting said. “She’s used to playing on-on-one and will have double-teams. She needs to let the game come to her.”
Regardless of his team’s results, Nolting is happy with the fight his girls have shown all season.
“I’m pleased with the season and the girls,” he said. “They’ve played hard all year. I feel good. We have a lot to build on. We’re excited to get sectional going and seeing what we can do.”
Boys looking for third straight
The Cougars’ boys team has back-to-back titles under its belt, but not in the Jac-Cen-Del Sectional.With just four teams in Sectional 56, the Cougars need to get past Hauser on Wednesday to make it to Saturday’s championship.On Sept. 3, the Cougars tied the Jets 0-0 in a game of missed opportunities.
“It’s an ideal draw for us in the first round,” Cougars coach Brandan Tabeling said. “We get to go out and play a familiar opponent. It was a very great, competitive game when we played.
“They missed a couple chances, and we missed quite a few chances. It will be one of those games where whoever decides to go out and give a full 80 minutes at 100 percent effort will get the win.”
The Cougars (6-7-2) ended their season with a pair of wins against Shoals and Southwestern and hope that momentum will carry into the postseason.
On the other side of the bracket, Oldenburg Academy and Jac-Cen-Del will square off.
Oldenburg bested the Cougars 2-0 on Aug. 31.
“It’s not a completely new sectional, as we’ve played two of the three teams in our new sectional,” Tabeling said. “It’s going to take two games of giving everything for maybe more than 80 minutes. I could see us going into some shootouts. It’s going to take a little luck. We need to be hungry for goals. We need to be willing to throw our body in front of the ball if it means getting a score. Everyone on our team needs to play 100 percent.”
In recent games, the Cougars have changed their lineup. Tabeling said he plans on returning to his original starting-11 lineup for the postseason.
“More than likely, we will be starting Luke (Onken) in goal,” Tabeling siad. “Luke is a three-year goalkeeper for us. We put him on the field because he does a good job talking and passing. Cole Allman (who has also played keeper) plays the same way in the middle for us and will control the midfield.”
Bobby Tabeling led the Cougars in the regular season with eight goals, while Chris Rust added five scores.
In the final game of the season, Cougars left back Andrew Emily placed a pair of free kicks in for goals.
Coach Tabeling said that his team uses the regular season to prepare for the sectional, and records don’t matter in the playoffs.