With the Saxony Lutheran boys soccer team returning three all-state selections from last fall — including the Class 2 Defensive Player of the Year — the Crusaders know they potentially have a special season ahead of them.
One year ago, Saxony fell to eventual state runner-ups Perryville in the Class 2 District 1 Championship match, which is the same game the Crusaders have had their season end the past two years.
“There’s a different edge about this team because there are seven guys that know it’s their last season,” Saxony head coach Chris Crawford said. “This senior class won districts their freshman year, and then we got moved up a class.
“We’ve had out struggles there, but we’ve still made two-straight district championships. They know what it takes to win — they’ve won their entire career, so they’re trying to teach the younger guys, ‘This is how we do things at Saxony.’”
The three players to be named as some of the best in Missouri for Saxony were seniors forward Jace Boland, defender Paul Kaufmann and midfielder Max Richey.
“We return quite a bit of our team from last year and only had three starters graduate,” Saxony head coach Chris Crawford said. “Our three returning all-starters are all very dynamic players, so they add a lot to both our attack and our defense. They’ve all started that they’ve played at Saxony — those three make us pretty dynamic all over the field.”
Kaufmann, who helped the Crusaders record seven shutouts in 2021, was also selected as last year’s Class 2 Defensive Player of the Year. On top of that, Paul was Saxony’s fourth-leading scorer with 22 points by scoring five goals and dishing out 10 assists.
“PK is obviously a special player — he’s real physical and is as ornery as can be as a defender, which I love but is really annoying to play against,” Crawford said. “He’s got a very, very high soccer I.Q.”
As for Boland and Richey, they combined for 123 points as Jace led the Crusaders with 66 by recording a team-high 23 goals and 20 assists. Max paced Boland at 57 points as he produced 20 goals and 17 assists of his own.
“Jace and Max are both super technical and both have been playing the game forever,” Crawford said. “They are two incredibly talented kids, and Max is probably the most technical player I’ve had outside of Kaufmann and Paul Adams from a few years ago.
“Max does a lot of dirty work and scores a lot of goals for us. Jace is explosive and people know he’s fast, but they don’t know how skilled he is.”
Other seniors who will continue to make an impact for Saxony this season include goalkeeper Aaron Zoellner and forward Michael Hasz. Zoellner had seven shutouts last season, as well as 102 saves through 22 starts. Hasz finished as the Crusaders third-leading scorer behind Boland and Richey with 24 points (eight goals and eight assists).
“[Zoellner] looks like a Division-I linebacker coming at you at times,” Coach Crawford said. “He knows how to control the backline and just be in the right spots. He knows we expect him to make all of the routine saves and then probably one or two to keep us in the game.”
Non-seniors who will continue to make an impact and see more time on the pitch will be players like junior Luke Eggemeyer and sophomores Jackson Wilson and Johnathan Pfeiffer. Eggemeyer produced the fifth-most points on Saxony with 12 (four goals and four assists) last year.