Second-half surge not enough as Cougars fall to Warriors in sectional

The Trinity Lutheran boys soccer team was tasked against one of the best goal scorers they’ve faced this year in Tyler Doherty of Christian Academy of Indiana.

The Warriors’ 5-foot-6 senior was able to find the back of net five times en route to Christian Academy’s 7-1 victory over the Cougars on Monday night in the first round of the sectional.

“The kid is an absolute stud,” Trinity head coach Todd Jack said of Doherty. “He has got all the moves, quickness and knows what he wants to do. When it comes to finishing, he was a class act.”

After a scoreless first 13 minutes of the game, Doherty scored his first goal. Abraham Heavener scored CAI’s second goal with 20:45 left in the first half, and Elijah Brace made it 3-0 with 12:11 left.

Doherty scored two more goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half to give the Warriors a 5-0 lead over the Cougars.

Jack then challenged his team to “earn their respect back” in the second half, and the Cougars responded with that challenge.

Trinity was much more aggressive in the second half, and the Cougars were awarded with plenty of looks at goal.

“When things aren’t going our way, we just need to earn our respect back,” Jack said. “Winning possession, being aggressive, getting goal scoring opportunities, that’s how you get your respect back. They really stuck to that in the second half.”

Trinity cashed in on one of those opportunities with 30:51 left in the second half when Andrew Bell scored.

Jack moved Bell from center-mid to center-forward in the second half, and it paid off as Bell put a lot of pressure on the Warriors’ back line.

“Second half, we made a few tactical switches with personnel,” Jack said. “I just realized I had to unleash Andrew Bell. He was dogging their back line. He had the one goal but probably had four to five more opportunities that just didn’t fall.”

As Jack alluded to, Trinity had plenty more opportunities to close the gap on the scoreboard, but they couldn’t cash in, and then Doherty scored two more goals in the second half to put the game out of reach.

Despite CAI scoring seven goals, Peyton Pollert had an impressive night in net.

“The score line does not by any means tell the tale of Peyton Pollert tonight,” Jack said. “He had one of the best games I’ve seen him play all year. We’ve been really getting into him about his timing and decision-making. Seeing him make those decisions tonight was really special to me.”

Monday’s loss marked the end of the careers for seniors Bell, Levi Froedge, Eli Ballard, Adam Everroad and Prader Kiel. Bell, Everroad and Kiel were the captains this season.

“The seniors, to me, mean everything,” Jack said. “This year, we wanted to use these guys as leaders to start building the program. The three captains I had all led in their own ways.”

Ballard and Froedge were both in their first year playing soccer.

“They were really staple parts of our defense and offense,” Jack said.

Christian Academy advanced to the semifinals of the sectional on Wednesday, where they will play the winner of Rock Creek and Henryville, who played the second match Monday.

The second semifinal match Wednesday will be between Lanesville and Austin. All matches will remain at Trinity Lutheran High School, starting at 5 p.m.