Semoball

Saxony Lutheran to meet Principia in Class 1 boys soccer quarterfinals

The Saxony Lutheran soccer team will face a familiar foe when it hosts Principia at 1 p.m. today in the MSHSAA Class 1 quarterfinals.

Saxony Lutheran (10-9) has won six straight district championships to advance to the quarterfinals, and this will be the third time in six years the Crusaders will face Principia (9-11) at this stage. The Panthers have bested the Crusaders both of the previous two meetings, 1-0 last year and 7-0 in 2015.

"Both us and Principia are totally different teams this year," Saxony Lutheran coach Chris Crawford said. "Principia graduated quite a few guys, but they replace -- they don't have off years. It's going to be another really good game."

The Crusaders come into the game having not allowed a goal in their previous three matchups, which includes two district matchups including a 2-0 win over Gateway Science Charter in the District 1 title game. That gives senior goalkeeper Matt Wydra seven shutouts in 20 games this season, with coach Crawford believing they could have had even more.

"We've had some fluky goals scored on us this year." Crawford said. "We also had been tinkering with our lineup in the back. We've had some continuity now, and they are figuring it out with each other."

The Crusaders start two freshmen, Max Ritchie and Paul Kauffmann in the back line, but Crawford did not seem too concerned about their varsity inexperience, calling them "high-level."

Saxony Lutheran will need the defense to continue it's form. Principia comes in having scored at least one goal in six straight games, including three goals in each of its two district victories. The Panthers defeated Brentwood 3-0 in the District 2 title game.

Another freshman, Jace Boland, has had an impact on the offensive side for the Crusaders. He's among the team leaders in goals and scored in the district championship game.

It hasn't just been Boland. Saxony Lutheran has had 17 players score goals this season.

"It makes us really hard to game plan for," Crawford said. "It's not something we went into the year thinking, 'Man, I hope we have 17 people score.' It's just something that kind of happened."

The Crusaders leading scorers on the year are Boland, Kauffmann, junior Paul Adams and senior Mason Dunn.

Principia has eight shutouts on the year, but only has two in its previous eight matches.

"Our guys are ready and excited for the opportunity," Crawford said. "When you have to worry about snow days during soccer season, you are doing something right."

The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Lutheran North and Father Tolton Regional Catholic in the state semifinals at 10 a.m. Nov. 22 at World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton, Missouri.

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