Sabers surprise Charleston in soccer

Sabers surprise Charleston in soccer

CHARLESTON — On paper, it didn’t appear as though St. Thomas More had a chance in Saturday’s Class 1A girls’ regional soccer final against mighty Charleston. The top-seeded Trojans entered the contest with a 19-2 record and a roster loaded with Division I talent.

But the Sabers, who entered the match at Eastern Illinois with a 9-9 record, embraced the challenge.

“All week we were talking the underdog role up. We knew we were the underdog, and we embraced that role well,” STM coach James Johnson said. “Our girls have heart. We knew we were going to leave it on the field.”

Thanks to a pair of goals from Louisette Lukusa and another from Randa Harshbarger, the Sabers’ season continues into next week’s sectional after a 4-1 win Saturday.

“It was a huge win, probably the biggest win in program history,” Johnson said. “I have a lot of respect for their coach, Paul Stranz. He’s been there for 30 years or so.”

It was STM’s seniors who set the tone, from Lukusa, who forced an own goal for the Sabers’ fourth tally, and Harshbarger on the score sheet, to Katie Kulas’ defense.

“She’s a senior captain and moving her to the back line and keeping Charleston’s potent offense out of the net was huge,” Johnson said. “The seniors and upperclassmen stepped up when we needed them to, and that’s been the story of our season. We knew we had our hands full, but our eight seniors poured their hearts into our program, and they weren’t going down without a fight.”

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