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I-A GIRLS SOCCER: Crusaders shut down Meyers, beat Spring Valley

Faith Lutheran’s girls soccer team knew it needed to stop Samantha Meyers on Saturday.

The Spring Valley senior forward torched the Crusaders for six goals in the teams’ first two meetings this season.

Meyers got plenty of shots in the Division I-A Southern Region final, but the Crusaders kept her from getting many good scoring opportunities and and blanked the Grizzlies 2-0 at Bettye Wilson Park.

“Basically every goal we had given up to them this year was from them playing over the top to (Meyers),” Faith Lutheran coach Steve Morrill said. “It was about shutting her down. We figured if we could shut her down, we would have a chance.”

Meyers was a big reason why the Grizzlies went 1-0-1 vs. Faith Lutheran in the regular season, scoring all of her team’s goals in the two matches.

But the Crusaders (18-6-3) always knew where Meyers was on the field Saturday and didn’t let her wiggle free too often despite losing Brenna Rohnkohl — one of the team’s best defenders — to a left knee injury 12 minutes into the match.

“I give a lot of credit to the girls because it’s hard when you lose Brenna in the first 10-15 minutes,” Morrill said. “We had some people really step up and play a solid game.”

Meyers took seven of the Grizzlies’ 28 shots but wasn’t able to square up many from a good angle.

That was true of most of Spring Valley’s team as Faith Lutheran cluttered the middle of the field, forcing the Grizzlies to take shots from long range or difficult angles. Seventeen of the 28 shots were from 25 yards or longer.

When the Grizzlies (12-4-3) did get close, Faith Lutheran goalkeeper Beka Lescenski was superb. Lescenski made nine saves, including a two-hand stop from point-blank range to stymie Mackenzie Carcelli in the 26th minute, and recorded her 15th shutout of the year.

“What we wanted to do was make them shoot from 25, 30 yards out,” Morrill said. “If they are shooting from 25 or 30 yards out, I can live with that.”

The Crusaders got all the offense they needed in the first half, taking a lead on Megan Sonerholm’s goal in the 20th minute. Kristi Chinn’s corner kick got between two Spring Valley defenders and came to Sonerholm for an easy goal.

Faith Lutheran extended the lead to 2-0 just before halftime, again off a corner kick, as the ball deflected off a Spring Valley defender and right to the Crusaders’ Megan Donnelly in front of the net. Donnelly buried a shot into the lower left corner of the goal.

“The set pieces were the difference for us,” Morrill said.

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