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Saxony girls soccer headed back to Class 1 Final Four

Saxony Lutheran girls soccer senior midfielder Clara Brune helped the Crusaders reach the Class 1 Final Four for the second season in a row last week. Photo by Nick McNeal

For the second season in a row, the Saxony Lutheran girls soccer team has advanced to the Class 1 Final Four. The Crusaders did so after a convincing 4-0 shutout of Maplewood Richmond Heights in the Class 1 District 1 championship game.

Thankfully for the Crusaders, they returned a bevy of talent from last year’s third-place team, which includes a senior class that features a prominent two-sport athlete in senior Clara Brune.

Brune is no stranger to winning district titles as she’s helped Saxony do so in both soccer and volleyball during the fall sports season. She wasn’t able to make it to state for her final season of volleyball, but she’ll get to compete for another state championship in soccer at the end of the month.

“It’s the best feeling,” Brune said. “Knowing everything we have worked for the whole season is coming together.”

Saxony (13-6) continued to display its diversity in putting the ball in the back of the net by having four different players score against Maplewood (14-5). Crusaders seniors Mallory Kohfeld, Kylie Peters and juniors Camille Richey and Faith Dreyer came up with goals.

Both Dreyer and Kohfeld also dished out assists in the district title game, while senior Annie Adams also had an assist in the match.

“We went into the game focused and ready, knowing it was not going to be easy. We knew we would have to leave everything on the field to be able to win. We took the game one play at a time.”

Even though a player like Brune didn’t score or have an assist in the district final, she still has a major impact any time she’s out of the field. In the midfield, Clara is a physical specimen fighting for the ball, and she, of course, uses that strength to score lengthy goals as well.

“My playing mentality is to go hard, go in to every tackle hard and to do whatever it takes to help my team be successful,” Brune said. “I leave everything I have on the field.”

The Crusaders reached the district championship match with a 5-3 win over Gateway Science Charter (9-3-2). Prior to that, Saxony picked up another 4-0 shutout to start the district tournament versus Valley Park (4-9-1).

This makes for nine shutouts on the year for senior goalkeeper Grace Ozark, who is helped out by fellow senior center back Maci Hollis in the backline. Other seniors who are crucial to Saxony’s success include Peyton Meier and Katie Swain.

“Our senior class is definitely something very special,” Brune said. “We are all super dedicated and hard working. I think what makes us special is that we play for each other and not ourselves.”

Prior to the district tournament, it’s safe to say the Crusaders experienced some hardship as they lost four of their last six games to finish the regular season.

Each of those teams had an above .500 record, though, are one or two classifications above Saxony: Class 3 Cape Central (13-6), Notre Dame (15-6), St. Vincent (11-9) and Class 2 Perryville (15-6). Both Notre Dame and Perryville won their respective district tournaments.

“The end of our season was definitely a little rough, but we played some great competition, which made us better prepared for post season play,” Brune said. “We kept pushing forward because we have one goal, and we didn’t let those games stop us from reaching that goal.”

Moving forward to the Class 1 Final Four, Saxony will either face Summit Christian Academy or Mid-Buchanan in the state semifinal on May 31 at the World Wide Technology Soccer park in Fenton. The winner will take on the District 2 or District 3 Champion for the state championship June 1.

“We know what to expect this year. The heat kinda took us out last year. We are going to be more prepared and ready to get the job done.”

Soccer is certainly a popular sport among the Brunes as her older sisters Maddie and Emma were both Division-I players. Maddie won back-to-back state championship with the Crusaders back in 2015 and 2016.

“Both my sisters have been the most amazing role models for me,” Clara said. “They have taught me what hard work looks like, that nothing worth doing is easy and how to lead by example. I just want to continue the legacy of Saxony soccer and win a state championship like my sister Maddie! Emma never made it past districts.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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