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Saxony Lutheran boys soccer team tumbles in district title game
St. Pius posted a 6-1 victory in the Class 1 District 1 final
FESTUS, Mo. -- The Saxony Lutheran boys soccer team tried adjusting its early strategy in Thursday's Class 1 District 1 title game.
"We went to a more offensive approach at the beginning," Saxony coach Ryan Schweain said. "We were hoping to get that one first. Then we were going to try to win with a 1-0."
St. Pius senior Elijah Surdyke quickly ruined that plan.
The Lancers senior scored two goals early in the first half to help host St. Pius defeat the Crusaders 6-1 for the district championship. Saxony Lutheran beat St. Pius on penalty kicks in last year's district title game.
"They always play us hard, so the early goals are nice," St. Pius coach Dan Bokern said. "Take a little pressure [off]. A three-goal lead for me is [when] I feel comfortable ... to put people in."
Surdyke's first goal looked innocent enough until the very end. The ball squirted through the Crusaders' defense, and Surdyke was able to poke it into the goal just before the Crusaders' keeper could grab it.
Part of the reason for the Crusaders' plan to try for the early goal was because of the conditions. Rain fell throughout the contest and a stiff wind added to the difficulty.
"With the cold and stuff, it's hard to keep focused," Saxony senior Jeremy Englehart said. "It's hard to keep your head in the game."
Surdyke's second goal came when he took a nice cross and popped his shot just inside the left post. Englehart said he made a defensive adjustment after realizing the Lancers kept trying to feed passes over the Crusaders' defense.
"I was pushing more back once I saw they were doing that," he said. "The ground is so wet, it's hard to make the short passes, so they went with the more direct approach. I tried playing back more so I could get there first."
Jeremy Spellmeyer gave the Lancers' a 3-0 lead off a pass from Jordan Tucker less than two minutes after Surdyke's second tally.
"We knew they were a good team," Schweain said. "They beat us 5-1 earlier in the year. I felt like we had a couple tough breaks, bad bounces that just kind of rain, slick, field not in great shape. We knew we had to get that first goal. That would have been a game changer if we would have had that first one."
Jeffrey Penaloza capped the first-half scoring by burying a rebound of his own shot for a 4-0 lead.
"We were kind of down, but they scored four goals in a half, so we know we could do it too," Saxony junior Logan Sprandel said.
Surdyke earned the hat trick less than eight minutes into the second half. He worked a one-on-one with the Saxony keeper and put a low shot into the left corner to pad the Lancers' lead.
Brennon Lauterwasser scored about two minutes later for a 6-0 lead.
"We just played our normal style," Bokern said. "It was a little slippery, but it wasn't like slowing the passes down. You put it on the person's feet. You don't lead them too much. It becomes like turf where it just runs out of bounce."
Sprandel kept the Crusaders from being shut out. The Lancers goalie couldn't corral a loose ball, so Sprandel snared it, turned and lofted a shot into the open goal about 24 minutes into the second half.
The Crusaders finished the season 9-16, while the Lancers improved to 20-4-1. St. Pius will face Bayless in Tuesday's sectional round.