Saxony Lutheran soccer team falls 3-1 in district title game
Thursday, November 1, 2012
FESTUS, Mo. -- St. Pius won the pre-game coin toss and elected to attack with the wind in the Class 1 District 1 championship soccer match Wednesday afternoon.
It provided the fast start the Lancers wanted.
St. Pius netted two first-half goals and claimed their second consecutive district title 3-1 over Saxony Lutheran.
"At the toss we wanted to get the wind first half, maybe help us out a little bit," Saxony coach Ryan Schweain said. "But they got it, and they used it. And they're also a skilled team, so we thought we might be able to use that wind to our advantage to try and get up on them first, instead of trying to play from behind."
St. Pius (16-4) dominated every aspect of the game behind a gusty wind in the first half.
The Lancers had numerous chances in the first. Several sailed wide, but St. Pius put five shots on goal.
"First half with the wind, we had a lot of possession time," Lancers coach Dan Bokern said. "I thought we did real well moving the ball. We had plenty of chances, and we just couldn't find the back of the net except for a couple."
St. Pius struck first 23 minutes in.
Luke Bandy played a cross from the right side to a streaking Seth Koch, who redirected the ball with his head into the near-post net.
"It was nice," Bokern said. "It kind of takes a little [pressure] off. We've had that problem all year it seems like. We go in spurts where we do real well, finding the back of the net, then we hit a dry spell. We'll control the ball real well and do everything we're supposed to do, but we just can't finish every once in awhile."
The goal ended a frustrating opening 20 minutes for the Lancers.
Saxony turned back every opportunity the Lancers created, mostly by playing all but two players back.
"I thought our defense played great," Schweain said. "Especially for a goalie that's never played in high school. And our two outside backs, this is their first year playing. To play against a skilled squad like Pius, they did outstanding. I couldn't ask for more."
Saxony's first chance of the game resulted in the Lancers' second goal.
The Crusaders' Logan Sprandel played a cross in from the left side, but the ball was cleared by St. Pius.
The Lancers then transitioned to the attack, catching the Crusaders forward.
The play resulted in the Lancers' Matthew Wilson having a breakaway and sliding a low ball into the net.
Saxony struggled to muster any offense in the first half, tallying only one shot on goal.
"We kind of struggled in that transition, getting it from the backs up top," Schweain said. "And then really just having the one forward up there for the most part and maybe two. Trying to get it up there to Logan, and then he was having to deal with their four backs and it was tough on him. But we gave it a go."
Sprandel made sure the Crusaders didn't go down easily.
The senior forward netted his 37th goal of the season and 93rd career goal five minutes into the second half to make it 2-1.
"We needed to get one fast so we could get some momentum going for us and shut them down," Sprandel said.
The goal jump-started Saxony's play.
The Crusaders were visibly more active and more vocal in the second half.
"We were so quiet in the first half," Schweain said. "Nobody was communicating or talking. You could see we weren't talking to each other, so halftime was just up our communication and just play hard. I told the seniors this is in all reality the last 40 minutes of competitive soccer, and underclassmen this is the last time you're going to play with these guys probably ever in a competitive game."
Saxony played a more relaxed second half but failed to net many more solid chances.
The Lancers put the game out of reach late in the second half.
Jeffrey Penaloza flicked a header in the box that tipped the crossbar and found the net.
"That was huge," Bokern said. "That took a lot of pressure off because once they got that goal, and being a goal down, that's a tight game. It gets their hope up and the momentum shifts. But I think the third goal helped us a little bit. [Saxony] still played hard until the very end. They're a class act over there."
It was a sour end to the Crusaders' season, especially Sprandel's impressive career, but the future is bright with four freshmen and four sophomores on the roster.
"We're going to miss [Sprandel's] offense for sure," Schweain said. "This entire senior class as well. I'm going to miss that team, they were a fun group to coach."