CRYSTAL CITY, Mo. -- Saxony Lutheran's first winning season in girls soccer came to an end Saturday afternoon at Father Dalton Field.
The Crusaders lost a Class 1 District 1 semifinal to host St. Pius 6-1.
The Crusaders finished 13-8 after going 6-12 last year and 8-9 in their first season in 2010.
"I think we'll get better and better the next couple years," said Saxony Lutheran coach Ryan Schweain, who had just one senior starter playing Saturday.
The Crusaders will have to keep improving if they want to keep up with the district competition.
Saxony Lutheran entered the district tournament ranked eighth in the state poll by the Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association but only could get the third seed in a four-team field.
St. Pius (22-2) was ranked second, and top-seeded St. Vincent (20-4) was ranked first.
The Indians' 12-1 drubbing of Hancock on Saturday set up a district championship game Tuesday that could be seen as a state-championship caliber contest. St. Vincent won the April 4 matchup 2-1.
Saxony Lutheran was taking aim at St. Pius for the second time this week after having lost 4-0 on Tuesday.
And the Crusaders still were undermanned with two players injured, one ill and another competing for the track team in the sectional meet.
"That changed a lot of the dynamics of our team," Schweain said. "We had to move people around and just take our best shot at that point."
That was no easy task against the Lancers, who now have won 17 consecutive games since losing to Principia on April 9.
"They're a good team with a lot of skill players and a lot of control," Schweain said.
The Lancers had a goal just 1 minute, 11 seconds into the game when sophomore Kirsten Nulsen found herself with an open look from in front of the net. It was 2-0 less than five minutes into the game when junior Caroline Basler headed in a corner kick from sophomore Haylee Eastridge.
St. Pius had four corner kicks to zero for Saxony Lutheran.
But the Crusaders climbed back into the game midway through the first half. Junior Regan Obermann sent a ball in from a restart on the right side of the field, and the Crusaders had a stampede of players charging the net in position to convert.
It was freshman Abby Hadler, with senior teammate Obermann right beside her, who slipped the ball past Lancers goalkeeper Holly Magre.
"We thought we had a chance," Hadler said about the goal serving as a spark. "But they're really aggressive. We should have come out harder."
Jordan Huff had one good run toward the Lancers' net shortly after Hadler's goal, but St. Pius continued to put more pressure on before junior Ashley Marks scored with 5:03 remaining in the first half. The goal came on another set piece. Christina Hovatter sent a ball into the box that Basler headed straight up. The ball eventually ended up in Marks' possession after a scramble in the box.
"I think that deflated us a little bit because after we got that goal, we were energized and kept the ball in the end for a little bit," Schweain said. "That almost seemed to seal our fate from that point on."
St. Pius coach Dan Bokern appreciated the breathing room since his team led just 1-0 at halftime Tuesday before completing the shutout win against Saxony Lutheran.
"I told the girls Ryan would have his team ready, and they're going to try to win no matter what," said Bokern, who has coached the girls program since it started more than 20 years ago. "Saxony is dangerous. They can score."
But the Crusaders were shut out in the second half, while St. Pius put in another three goals. Basler scored again about three minutes into the second half. Eastridge added one midway through the half, and Madeline Smith scored in the final minute.
Saxony Lutheran sophomore goalkeeper Abby Goeckeler was challenged much of the second half. She made two outstanding saves five minutes into the second half, first deflecting a shot that rolled along the top of the crossbar. The ball dropped to Nulsen on the right side of the goal, but Goeckeler smothered her shot.
"She made some good saves, and the goals they got were tough ones to stop anyway," Schweain said. "I don't think she gave them one."
Kayla Seabaugh scored three goals to help St. Vincent, the state runner-up in Class 1 last year, began its playoff march with a mercy win against Hancock.
The game was stopped at halftime.
Courtney Heberlie had two goals and two assists, and Holly Cissell scored two goals. Storm French had a goal and an assist. Kylie Baer, Mallory Tucker, Courtney Brown and Abby Lappe each scored a goal. Abby Ruessler had two assists, while Sara Geile, Kayla Winkler and Holly Blandford each had one.
"I kind of expected what we got today," St. Vincent coach Dusty Wengert said. "I just wanted to see us get it over with so we could be rested and ready for Tuesday, and also with no injuries. Everything kind of worked out to our favor."
St. Vincent will try to beat St. Pius in the district title game in hopes of a fourth consecutive trip to the state's final four.
"Pius is a great team," Wengert said. "Whoever wins Tuesday night is going to earn it. It's one of those things, you've got to be mentally ready to go. It's probably going to be a one-goal game. I don't see either team giving up a massive amount of goals. It should be a nerve-racking one."