If you just looked at the season records, it figured to be a mismatch.
The Helias Crusaders entered Saturday afternoon’s Class 2 soccer quarterfinal nine games under .500, while the Orchard Farm Eagles brought an 18-2-1 record to the Crusader Athletic Complex.
But throw out the records.
“For people that saw us as underdogs, I don’t think they gave us enough regard in terms of our soccer,” Helias coach Jon DeSha said after the Crusaders fell 3-1 to the Eagles. “It’s up to me to change that in the upcoming years and I will.”
DeSha thought the opening 20 minutes of the contest would be key, as he was looking for the Crusaders to get settled in.
Unfortunately for the Crusaders, the Eagles got out of the first 21 minutes leading 2-0.
Orchard Farm took a 1-0 lead about four minutes into the contest on a goal by Logan Hazel, assisted by Lucas Stopke.
“That was a solid play for the first goal,” DeSha said.
The Eagles doubled their advantage with just inside of 20 minutes to play in the half when Mason Campbell drilled a shot from far outside of the top of the box into the top of the net.
“You’re striking that from 40 yards out, I think that’s where the luck factor comes in,” DeSha said. “But it was struck very well and was a great goal, I don’t want to take anything away from them.”
The Crusaders weren’t going to go away. They trimmed their deficit in half with a little less than five minutes to go on a goal by Miles Vollet scored off an assist by Brendan Callahan.
“We found ourselves in a position of having to claw back out of a hole, which is a place we’ve been before,” DeSha said. “We weren’t uncomfortable at all.
“By the time the first half ended, I think we were dominating.”
The Crusaders and Eagles took turns in the second half getting the better of play.
“I think both teams owned a percentage of the second half,” DeSha said. “We dug in and moved the ball well, we just couldn’t get a finish.”
Midway through the second half, Orchard Farm picked up an insurance goal when Bobby Pauly scored after a corner kick.
“It was a good style of soccer for us today, we played like I like us to play,” DeSha said. “We just didn’t come out on the winning end.”
Orchard Farm (20-5) will take on Saxon Lutheran (15-9) in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the World Wide Technology Park in Fenton.
DeSha led the Crusaders to a district title after taking over the program last May.
“We hit the ground running this season, there wasn’t a lot of time to put in offseason work,” he said.
DeSha was pleased with what Helias (8-18) accomplished in his first season with the program.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “We accomplished a lot this season.”
And looks to continue to improve in the future.
“This school is a place where hard work blossoms,” DeSha said. “All you have to do is water it and it grows, that’s one of my keys, I want to do that.”