Prior to this spring, the Saxony Lutheran girls soccer team made it to three Class 1 District 1 Championship games after winning back-to-back state titles in 2015 and 2016. The Crusaders came up short in all three of those district championship matches until making it back to the district finals this season.
No. 1 seeded Saxony (11-8) had no problem bringing home the program’s first district title in seven years as it handled No. 3 seed Gateway Science Charter (6-7) via a 8-0 shutout. The final whistle was blown with 24 minutes, 40 seconds left in the second half after the Crusaders scored for the final time.
“It’s pretty special because this group has been building together for the last three years,” Saxony head coach Chris Crawford said. “[My upperclassmen] had a pretty brutal first couple of years. To see what they’ve done all the way up to now is pretty incredible.”
Even though Saxony has a returning all-state selection in sophomore Camille Richey, who leads her team in points with 31 off 12 goals and seven assists, the Crusaders still had eight different players score a goal in the championship match.
Starting things off for Saxony was junior Clara Brune as she scored a goal from 25-plus yards out in the first three minutes. Nearly 20 minutes went by until the next goal was scored, which was by the Crusaders third-leading scorer behind Richey in sophomore Faith Dreyer.
Dreyer, who has produced 26 points (nine goals eight assists) gave Saxony a 2-0 lead in the 21st minute, which was followed up by a goal from Richey just four minutes later.
Saxony’s final score of the first half came with eight minutes left until halftime as sophomore Abby Haley kicked in her seventh goal of the season for a commanding 4-0 lead.
Fellow sophomore Maggie Hillen scored the Crusaders first goal of the second half in the 42nd minute, which was followed up by junior Annie Adams’ first goal of the match seven minutes later. Adams is right behind Richey in total points with 28 as she’s recorded nine goals and a team-high 10 assists.
Camille nearly added in another goal of her own two minutes later, but it bounced off the goalkeeper and to junior Mallory Kohlfeld for her third goal of the season.
With primarily backups in the game after Saxony took a 7-0 lead, thanks to Kohlfeld’s goal, Crusaders freshman Sophie DeBrower put the icing on the cake by scoring her team’s eighth goal of the night to make history and end a district title drought.
In Saxony’s last seven games where the team has finished 6-1 overall, the Crusaders have outscored their opponents 40-11 as they’ve scored eight or more goals on four different occasions.
“Our diversity in scoring makes us pretty dangerous,” Coach Crawford said. “In the past, we’ve been a one-trick pony, and now I think you’re going to have to prepare for a lot of people to score goals in a lot different ways than we have. We have a little bit more creativity and ability right now, so we’re hoping that carries forward for us.”
Defensively, Saxony has recorded seven shutouts this season and only allowed one goal in the district tournament in a 9-1 win over Kelly to reach the title match.
The Crusaders starting goalkeeper has been junior Grace Ozark, while defenders in the backline like senior Anna Mueller, junior Maci Hollis and sophomore Isabel Brown and defensive midfielders such as Brune and senior Ava Perry help anchor the defense as well.
“Our defense and goalkeepers have been phenomenal all year long,” Coach Crawford said. “Really we play defense with all 11 players on the field, so we play as one, and we score as one. They’ve really taken that attitude forward.”
Saxony will now host Class 1 District 2 Champion Metro (14-6) this Saturday with a trip to the state final four on the line. Metro has never made it to state.