By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
FENTON - For the second day in a row, Bishop LeBlond girls' soccer gave it all they had. Until there was literally nothing left to give.
The Golden Eagles (14-7), playing in hot, sunny conditions on a turf field that was north of 110 degrees Fahrenheit, fought until the bitter end, but fell to Saxony Lutheran, 2-1, in the Class 1 third place match at the World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton.
With a bench that was thinning out by the end, and a couple of players out with ailments, head coach Chad Thompson couldn't have asked for more.
"There toward the last five minutes, we didn't have anybody to sub," he said. "It was, 'If that one's tired, you go back there and hang out. You drop back here where we're being pressured.' I don't even know...you know, how do you condition for it?"
LeBlond had a much better offensive attack Saturday, getting a handful of looks at a goal in the first half, but Saxony (13-9) held the Eagles scoreless through the first 40 minutes.
It appeared the match was headed for a scoreless first half, but Saxony's Abigail Haley scored the first goal after collecting a long pass from the midfield and beating defender Emersyn Lenz to the goal line.
The Crusaders led 1-0 with 2:14 to play in the first half.
LeBlond had a quick answer in the second half. The Eagles passed the ball around the top of the 18-yard-box a few times. When it came to senior Emerson McChristy, who had a clean look down the middle, she kicked the ball into the air and buried it to knot the match at 1-1 with 34:07 to go. Allie Welter was credited with the assist.
"It was really exciting getting a goal in my last game," McChristy said. "I saw Kendall (Cathcart) constantly crossing her man. I just thought, 'One's going to come. I just have to get it in.'"
It was a tightly contested match from that point on, with possession changing hands quite often. Saxony, though, scored the go-ahead goal with just over 20 minutes left.
Maggie Hillin navigated through traffic in the box and shot the ball high and fast, just over the hands of keeper Maddie Sego and just under the crossbar to put the Crusaders back in front 2-1.
LeBlond had a couple of threats going late, but ultimately, any attempt at a tying goal was nullified.
The Eagles finished with four shots-on-goal after none against Father Tolton the day before. Sego had another strong day in the goal with eight saves.
Saturday's match marked the final outing for McChristy and fellow seniors Tatum Studer, Emma Raines and Maddie Angold. Reserve Mary King also suited up in a LeBlond uniform for the final time.
"It was definitely amazing," said Studer, a team captain. "Especially with a young and charismatic group. I believe they could probably do it again next year if they really wanted to. Not the outcome we wanted, but still, state. Amazing finish and just really proud of everybody."
With nine starters set to come back next year, and with history made this year in the program's first Final Four, Thompson can't help but be excited when he looks to the future of LeBlond soccer.
"We had six freshmen out on varsity," Thompson said. "Five of them start. Six of them are on the field a ton. It gives me goosebumps thinking about next year."
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