Faith Lutheran knows it’s going to have opponents coming after it the rest of the season.
That’s what happens as a team’s ranking climbs as the Crusaders’ has — all the way to No. 5 in the latest USA Today Super 25.
They’ve been up to the task for each test, and they passed a big one Monday. Mackenzie Folk and Amelia McManus scored goals, and the Faith Lutheran defense squashed every Arbor View opportunity in a 2-0 home victory.
“The girls are starting to realize everybody’s going to come extra hard to knock us out,” Faith Lutheran coach Bob Chinn said. “When you’re No. 5 in the nation, everybody wants to beat you.”
While Faith Lutheran (14-0, 8-0 Mountain League) adjusts to its newly found role as favorite, Arbor View is fighting to maintain its status as one of the best programs in the state.
The Aggies have been ranked as high as 14th in the country and were No. 12 in the latest Region VI rankings. Arbor View (12-2-1, 6-2) had some chances to crack the Faith Lutheran defense, but goalkeeper Jordan Brown was there to clean up every time there were any breakdowns.
“Our defense is fantastic,” Chinn said. “We’ve got the best goalie in the state. We’ve got two of the best center backs in the state. Then you look at our outside backs, they’re right up there, too. So our defense is a solid core, and we play from line to line to line. We don’t just do long balls. We build out of the back, and that makes it frustrating for a lot of other teams.”
Faith Lutheran’s speed gave Arbor View problems, especially early in the match, and kept the ball in the Aggies’ end of the field. The Crusaders broke through in the 13th minute, when Folk took a pass from Kennedy Lazenby and sent what appeared to be a cross attempt off the far post and into the goal.
“Mack was going for the upper V, and I’m sticking with that story,” Chinn said with a grin.
The Crusaders’ second goal started with a short corner. Ari Gronauer found McManus in the box, and McManus beat onrushing goalie Elysabeth Lough to score the goal.
Lough kept the Aggies in the game with some tough saves throughout, including a dive with full extension to rob McManus of a goal in the second half.