BUHLER — The Buhler Crusaders have advanced to the Class 4-3-2-1A state quarterfinals after a 3-0 win over Berean Academy Thursday in the regional finals at Buhler Stadium.
Buhler outshot Berean 11-1. Zachary Koontz had eight saves in goal for the Warriors. Collin Severud had one save for Buhler.
It was Buhler’s 12th clean sheet of the season. The Crusaders sweep Berean in two games this season, 5-0 on aggregate.
“We came out ready to play,” Buhler coach Bransyn Felty said. “We were ready to go. We held them off. In these conditions, it’s pretty tough to do. Footing was bad, but we held together. We were pretty confident. Our defense has come up big all year. We only have six goals against us. They are playing big.”
Buhler, 14-2-2, will play Tuesday. The opponent and site had not been selected at deadline. Berean ends the season 8-9-1.
“I think we’re ready for it,” Felty said. “We just have to stay together as a family like we have all year. We have to come meet the challenge.”
“It seemed like we came out a little flat,” Berean coach Russell Busenitz said. “We didn’t play as confident as we could have played. We made a couple of little mistakes where we weren’t aggressive to the ball. That allowed them to get a touch where they were free. Not allowing a shot or good opportunity in the first half, Buhler had a good defense. They’ve allowed six goals all year — five legitimate ones and one in a blow out game. You get your chances, but they clean up well in the back. They are solid, very solid, and we knew that coming in.”
Buhler scored in the 17th minute on a Camrin Engelken corner kick converted by Carter Engelken. Ninety seconds later, Cade Taylor scored on a breakaway off a long pass up the middle and through the Berean defense.
The Crusaders put things under control in the 34th minute when Nick Willm put in a shot, taking the ball off the back of a Berean defender.
Berean was outshot 8-0 in the first half.
The Warriors were able to create a little more space in the second half and hold on to possessions a little longer. Berean finally got a shot in the 61st minute, which was stopped by Severud.
The Warriors lose eight seniors, about half the varsity team.
“They’ll be some adjustments, but we have some good, young players who will step up and fill some roles,” Busenitz said. “When you lose eight seniors, it’s going to take a while next fall to find out who we are. I’m excited about that. We don’t get as many club players as some people think we do. I’ll be excited next year. You always have possibilities and good hopes. These guys are disappointed. You hate to be done. They have given a lot of hard work and effort. I have to credit Buhler. They are a good squad. They should go a long way next week. They can put up a lot of zeros.”
1. Buh. Carter Engelken (Camrin Engelken) 16:18
2. Buh. Cade Taylor (unassisted) 17:48
3. Buh. Nick Willm (unassisted) 33:13
Total shots — BA 0-1—1, Buh. 8-3—11. Shots on goal — BA 0-1—1, Buh. 8-3—11. Saves — BA: Zachary Koontz (L) 5-3—8. Buh.: Collin Severud (W) 0-1—1. Corner kicks — BA 3, Buh. 4. Fouls — BA 7, Buh. 15. Offside — BA 1, Buh. 0. Cautions — none.