Wait For It

Wait For It

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Covenant senior forward Girma Fekadu gets pushed, pulled, shoved and knocked down from nearly the opening whistle in every game as opposing defenders try and combat his creative style and electric speed with brute force.

Covenant's Girma Fekadu (10) celebrates the Eagles' state championship game win over Carlisle.

But Fekadu just doesn’t get rattled. He doesn’t lose his cool and demand a call from the referee on every knockdown. He’ll let the official know once that he’s trying to play his game, and then for the most part he moves on and starts grinding because he knows an opportunity is going to come.

Friday night in Richmond against Carlisle in the VISAA Division II title game, one of the finest opportunities of his Covenant career arose.

Covenant drew a foul outside the box and Fekadu stepped in to take the ensuing kick. He saw an opening and struck.

“I knew the middle guy (in the Carlisle wall) was going to jump so I was going to let (Brandon De Jong) take it and he was like ‘Girma it’s all you’,” Fekadu said. “I couldn’t let him down because he trusted in me.”

Fekadu buried a low slider in the back of the net and immediately raced to the Covenant fan section in the bleachers to celebrate, with the entire team joining him in his mad dash across the field.

Fekadu’s goal with 15 minutes left in the match stood up, with Covenant’s defense and keeper Jonathan Whyte making enough plays down the stretch to life the Eagles to a 1-0 victory and a state championship. Whyte earned man of the match honors, a well deserved nod after allowing just two goals in the entire Division II championship bracket. He also had a tremendous, leaping one-fist punch save near the end of the first half that helped preserve a 0-0 tie.

“He’s just such a great guy and we just love hanging out with him,” said senior captain and standout midfielder Win Marks. “He adds to the team chemistry, we love Johnny.”

Marks and the rest of the Covenant midfield managed to overcome an big Carlisle side that presented some unique physical challenges for the Eagles. But with Fekadu’s speed up top stretching the field, Covenant managed to create some excellent opportunities and keep the pressure on Carlisle.

“He makes everyone around him better,” Marks said. “You just can’t go wrong, he plays everyone really well and he makes me look good.”

That pressure eventually resulted in Fekadu’s chance, which he made good on and lifted the Eagles to the school’s first ever boys soccer state title. With much of the cast slated to come back too, including Whyte, Brandon and Alec De Jong who scored the Eagles’ two goals in the semifinal and key defender Michael Colberg, it may not be their last.

“Two years ago when we went to the state final four it was ridiculous,” Marks said. “We thought about (winning a title) but we never thought it was actually going to happen. This is just surreal. The alumni have really been behind us—we had a guy watching from Spain yesterday.”

So somewhere in Spain, another cheer went out Friday that joined the throng of Covenant supporters in Richmond. All had one message — the Eagles are champions. 

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