As Greenwood Christian Academy grows, its athletics program has continued to reach different milestones.
One that the school hasn’t hit yet is winning a regional championship — but the players on the boys soccer team are confident that they can change that on Saturday.
The Cougars, ranked 12th in Class A, won their third sectional title in five years last week, defeating fifth-ranked Oldenburg Academy along the way. Next up is a semifinal matchup with No. 1 Covenant Christian.
Some teams might be intimidated by the favored Warriors, but Greenwood Christian isn’t.
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“If we were looking at rankings, we wouldn’t be this far,” junior midfielder/defender Daniel Wilson said. “Rankings, to us, they don’t really matter. We face the No. 1 team, we face the worst team, we’re going to play the exact same no matter what and we’re going to go out there and win the game.”
“You’ve got to beat the No. 1 team eventually,” coach George Huizinga added, “so it doesn’t matter if you get them early or you get them late. You’ve got to beat them, so hopefully we’re up for the challenge.”
Part of the reason that the Cougars (14-3-1) are so confident is their depth. Returning most of the top talent from a team that had won 26 matches over the previous two years, Greenwood Christian added even more impact players in 2017 — including sophomore defender Champ McCorkle, a Franklin transfer, and freshmen Jonathan Amador and Styles McCorkle, who are part of a three-way tie for the team lead with nine goals apiece.
Adding such players to a nucleus that included senior midfielder Gerrit Huizinga (nine goals, 12 assists), junior forward Griffin Huizinga (six goals, 10 assists), junior midfielder Jack Kovacs, Wilson and sophomore goaltender Gabe Vessely has the Cougars believing they can reach the next level.
“We have so many outside backs and wings,” Gerrit Huizinga said. “As a starter, it lets you not save any energy. You can go 100 percent right from minute one, because you know your sub is going to be that good.”
Those extra bodies could come in handy — if Greenwood Christian can knock off Covenant, it’ll need to bounce back in time for a 7 p.m. regional championship against either Seton Catholic or Scecina.
Fatigue would be a factor, but as George Huizinga noted, it’s a factor for both sides. Besides, several Cougars have experience playing in club tournaments, where playing two matches in a day isn’t unusual.
“Once the adrenaline starts going, you forget about cramps, you forget about shin splints and you’re just out there to win the game,” Wilson said.
Win two more, and this Greenwood Christian club will hang the school’s first-ever regional title banner. As much as that accomplishment would mean, however, it wouldn’t be enough to fully satisfy the Cougars.
It’s another first they’re after.
“Our whole goal is a state championship, so that’s what we’re going for,” Wilson said. “This is just one small bump in the road to get to the goal.”
Class A Knightstown Regional
Seton Catholic vs. Indianapolis Scecina, 10 a.m.
Greenwood Christian vs. Covenant Christian, noon
Championship, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $7 per session or $10 for both sessions
Class A Knightstown Regional
Teams competing: Greenwood Christian (14-3-1), Covenant Christian (13-4-1), Indianapolis Scecina (15-2-2), Seton Catholic (15-4)
Favorite: Covenant Christian
Look out for: Everyone else
Players to watch: Greenwood Christian — Gerrit Huizinga, Griffin Huizinga, Jack Kovacs, Daniel Wilson; Covenant Christian — J.P. David, Maclain Hastings, Jacob Susud, Austin Wagner; Scecina — Julian Gonzalez, Jonathan Tinoco; Seton Catholic — Sam Brenneke, Nick Berger
Outlook: No. 1-ranked Covenant is the team to beat in what might be the state’s toughest Class A regional, but everyone in the field is a potential champion. Seton and Scecina boast two of Indiana’s top scorers in Brenneke (32 goals) and Tinoco (33 goals), respectively. The Cougars, meanwhile, haven’t gotten a ton of statewide attention, but they’ve got enough balance, depth and experience to play with anyone and are particularly dangerous crashing the net for goals on headers. If they can get an early lead against the Warriors, it could give them the momentum they need to survive the day.