WEST TERRE HAUTE -- North Putnam's boys' soccer team saw a familiar script play out in front of them Wednesday night as they traveled to West Vigo for the IHSAA Class A Sectional No. 49.
The Cougars were pitted against Covington, whom they drew in last year's tournament and, like in the previous year, fell again to the Trojans by a score of 2-0.
Both squads came ready to play, which made for a back and forth opening period of play before Covington gabbed a goal ten minutes into the first half.
Trojan midfielder Justin Long beat the defense to a ball through on goal and shot over North Putnam goalkeeper Bailey Allen to give Covington a 1-0 lead.
Allen needed to be at his best eight minutes later to save from Zeb Newlin, whose goal bound effort was arrowing towards the bottom corner before Allen's intervention.
Long again tested Allen with ten minutes to go in the half but the Cougar freshman backstop punched away a long distance effort.
Zach Hunter nearly gave Covington a scare when his long distance shot was deflected wide for a corner, though the Trojans broke from the ensuing play, only for Damon Hegg to fire over from 15 yards out.
North Putnam nearly undid itself with a short goal kick soon after and was fortunate that David Messick missed his shot wide of Allen's goal.
Ben Hazelgrove had the Cougars best chance of the half, but his header was touched wide by Covington backstop Garrett Link to end the half.
Covington came out of halftime firing and Allen had to tip over a Newlin drive five minutes into the second half.
The corner that followed nearly saw the Cougars go further behind, but he ball, which bounced around the penalty area, crawled up Allen's right-hand post but did not cross the line.
Allen was then fortunate not to concede to Newlin after fumbling a through ball before Travis Allen then swept a shot over the Cougar goal.
Messick fired a shot wide and Adam Randles hit a tame effort at Allen as Covington was dominating the midfield and controlling the flow of the game.
The pressure kept coming entering the final 20 minutes as Spencer McCone slashed a shot over Allen's goal before North Putnam had their best chance to equalize.
Jacob Hendershot sent a cross into the Covington penalty area that Hazelgrove headed above Link, who had to punch the ball over his goal to keep the Cougars out with a little over 10 minutes to play.
Nate Woolums then shot over the goal from the following cross before Randles put an effort wide of goal on the other end of the field.
Allen then bobbled a through ball, but was able to collect before Newlin could pounce .
He was finally beaten a minute later.
Covington continued to pour forward and finally got their reward after Hegg's cross from the right touchline found Long across Allen's goal.
Long didn't make the cleanest connection but the bouncing ball managed to reach the back post and over the line to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead.
Newlin then missed a trio of chances, the pick of which the junior somehow steered a shot wide while in front of goal when it looked easier to score.
North Putnam tried to find a route to goal, but its efforts ended in vain as Covington advanced to the sectional final against hosts West Vigo on Saturday.
North Putnam head coach David Moeller said that the Cougars just couldn't find a way to score.
"I thought we made a good effort out there. The first ten minutes were pretty frantic as everyone was pretty pumped up to play," Moeller said.
"We didn't create enough opportunities to score. Covington was pushing for that second goal and I was hoping that we would catch them on a counter.
"We switched some people around and moved our speed up front, but it just didn't work out for us," Moeller said. "We limited their shots to further away than in the first game and certainly didn't give them easy looks at goal. Defensively, we played well until the final few minutes."
Moeller said that, even after missing some of the higher goals the squad had set, they performed well over the course of the season.
"We had some pretty high expectations and hopes for this season. We thought that a WCC and sectional title was within reach but missed out on both of those," Moeller said.
"These seniors are a good group of guys and great players.
We're definitely going to miss them next year. They're going to be very hard to replace."
At West Vigo
IHSAA Boys' Soccer Class A Sectional No. 49
Covington 1 1 -- 2
North Putnam 0 0 -- 0
C -- Long 29:39
C -- Long 5:44