The long road back to success became a reality for the Saxony Lutheran soccer.
The Crusaders overcame a slow start and had a strong second half in a 2-0 victory over Metro on Saturday at Saxony Lutheran High School. Saxony will return to the Class 1 Final Four for the first time since 2016.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Saxony coach Chris Crawford said. “Our program has been building to this over the last few years. We like to play for championships and we get the opportunity to go for the big one.”
Saxony Lutheran has had to navigate some difficult years over the past few seasons, winning four games in 2021 and eight one year ago, and now back to the final four with 12 wins this season.
“We have been very young and taken a lot of lumps over the past few years,” Crawford said. “There were a lot of times when I could have understood where some of the girls wanted to give up and not play anymore. However, they never did. They showed up to open fields all summer long and did all the things you need to do to take that next step. This is just icing on the cake to now experience the final four.”
Metro had the first real scoring chance early in the first half as Saxony proceeded to turn away every scoring chance from there on. Crawford felt like his team could have played better in the first 40 minutes.
“We were a little timid in the first half” he said. “Instead of playing to win, we were playing not to lose. Metro frustrated us and had a good gameplan defensively. A little bit of that is on us because we didn’t come out to play aggressively. We were able to pick it back up in the second half.”
Overall, Crawford didn’t think the game was “pretty,” but compared it to the NCAA tournament and his favorite ESPN 30 for 30 “Survive and Advance” about Jim Valvano’s 1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack.
“We didn’t play well for the full 80 minutes like you would want,” he said. “But when you are on a postseason run you have to win a game ugly. We have to survive and advance and that’s what we did today.”
The second half was won by Saxony as they possessed the ball for much of the second 40 minutes. Faith Dreyer scored three minutes into the second half to give Saxony a 1-0 lead. Sophie DeBrower scored the insurance goal in the 65th minute to ice the game for Saxony.
The Crusaders will play Villa Duchesne on Friday in the Class 1 state semifinals at World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton.