Covenant soccer wins TNCAA title

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The year of championships continues for Covenant.

The Lions won the TNCAA championship Monday night, beating Clarksville Christian 9-1 behind hat tricks from brothers Terry Hines and Caleb Hines. Covenant has now won TNCAA titles in volleyball, boys basketball and soccer this season.

“This year has been special. With losing last year and the group we knew we had, it was tough. These are my babies – I’ve had them for six years. I wouldn’t trade any of them,” said coach Johnny Smith. “They gave me their heart and soul. They wanted to get here and asked me, ‘coach, can get us there?’ I told them I’d be here as long as ask me to be. They put in the effort and bought into my madness.”

Elijah Smith, Daniel Young and Ian Lyles all scored one goal each in the win, which doubled as senior night for the trio. Terry Hines, who was named tournament MVP after the win, Ethan Hillis and Madisen Madewell were also honored before the game as the Lions sent out their seniors on top once again.

Covenant is now 7-0-1 this season and will try to complete an unbeaten run Tuesday night against Warren County, weather permitting. The Pioneers are set to celebrate their seniors in the local rivalry game scheduled to take place at Warren County High School.

The Lions had taken down Clarksville Christian on the road last week, but Monday was different. Both teams knew the stakes were raised and Covenant has an extra jolt of energy – and jitters – with the pregame ceremony. Nobody wanted to see the run end for so many talented Lions, but they especially couldn’t fathom the group falling in its last home game.

“Our mentality was a little different. It was an emotional night and off and on all day we had to worry if the storms were coming. God smiled on us and we got some sunshine. We came out ready to play - we suited up and were ready to go,” said coach Smith.

The Hines brothers, along with a strong flourish by the seniors in the second half, made sure there would be another trophy to add to the school’s ever-expanding trophy case.

Caleb broke the ice with 18 minutes to play in the first half, weaving through the Clarksville defense before burying a shot in the back of the net. The younger Hines had torched the visitors in last week’s matchup and they spent most of the game trying to slow him down, but it didn’t work well.

Terry Hines made it 2-0 just four minutes later, hitting a laser from the top of the 18-yard box that flew over the keeper and into the net. It was the first of his three goals, which earned him his second TNCAA MVP this year – he was also the tournament MVP in basketball.

Caleb saved his best goal for right before halftime. A Lion attack in the box was pushed out, but Caleb swooped in at the middle and mounted another offensive. He worked his way to the right sideline, looking to see if he could find an angle to attack.

Just as Clarksville backed off, Caleb decided he would try to put the ball to net from 30 yards out. He hit a high chip shot, one that floated over the defense and banged the far post before rolling in.

Covenant players and fans were in disbelief while celebrating the goal, while the visitors seemed to lose all hope once Caleb dropped in the sensational shot.

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Early in the second half, Caleb helped get Elijah Smith on the scoreboard with quick thinking. The Lions were awarded a direct kick right outside the keeper’s box, leaving Clarksville scrambling to form a wall that would block Caleb’s view of the goal.

Instead of asking the ref to step Clarksville off 10 yards, Caleb spotted Elijah standing wide open outside the wall and in perfect position to attack. Caleb quickly shoveled a pass over and Smith did the rest, blasting away to make it 4-0.

The Hines brothers scored the next three for Covenant, two by Terry and one by Caleb, to secure their hat tricks. It was already in the bag for the Lions by then, but they got to have a little extra fun down the stretch when two seniors got into the action.

Lyles rushed in for a late score, which drew thunderous applause from big crowd of Lion faithful. The roar was matched – and maybe surpassed – when Young scored his first career goal in the final minutes.

“I think it was the most excited I’ve ever seen him,” said coach Smith.

Young agreed.

“I was so happy to get the goal. The ball was laid out perfectly to me and I had a wide-open shot at the back post, so I chipped it over the goalie. It was the best feeling in the world,” said Young.

He wasn’t the only excited senior after another title. The whole group was celebrating the victory, though Madisen Madewell did wish she could’ve joined the scoring party as well.

“I wish I could’ve gotten a goal in this last game, but it’s nice to see all the seniors get to score and play one last time on this field,” said Madewell, also a leader in the school’s volleyball championship back in the fall. “It was a good feeling. We’ve all always been close and play other sports together. We’re all very supportive of each other and you can feel it on the field.

“People will give up goals for a chance for others to get a goal. It’s nice to see how we help each other out.”

Terry Hines felt that generosity throughout the night. He was ready to give it back once he received the MVP medal, noting that it could’ve easily been other Lions who earned the recognition.

“It felt great, but Elijah could’ve gotten it. Caleb could’ve gotten it. They both scored three goals the last time we played them. I was just the lucky one who got it,” said Terry Hines. “Either of those guys could’ve walked away with it. It’s just part of being of a good team – most of the team can get out here and do what needs to be done to win.

“We play together and know our roles. The feeling (of MVP) is great, but it feels better knowing you have a team behind you.”

If winning the championship and celebrating the seniors wasn’t enough, Covenant also extended a five-year winning streak on his field. Coach Smith reminded the seniors about it after the game, acknowledging their role in building a true homefield advantage.

“We’ve finished our fifth season on this field and the high school has never lost on it. That’s a big accomplishment and something we carry with us. On this field, we defend our turf,” said coach Smith.

As for the overall feeling of the night, the team’s MVP had the final say.

“This is a blessing. We’ve been blessed with a good team that plays well together,” said Terry Hines. “There are good players all around – they try hard. When things don’t look good, they keep going and when things look good, they keep going. We don’t give up.”

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