High-scoring Crusaders heading toward postseason again

// Slattery twins a key to success up front

Casey and Bryanna Slattery have an opportunity that few others enjoy. With Tacoma Baptist once again deciding not to field a girls soccer team, the twin siblings are sharing the pitch for the second straight season on the boys squad and helping march the team toward the playoffs.

“We work really well together,” said Bryanna Slattery, who has scored four goals and added five assists for the Crusaders this year. “We communicate really well on the field. Passing-wise, we know where each other is going to go.”

But the duo makes up just a portion of the playmakers for the high-flying Crusaders, who were at it again on Oct. 10. Casey Slattery notched a hat trick on the way to an 8-0 win over Mount Rainier Lutheran at Fort Steilacoom Park, getting the Crusaders on the board in the 12th minute after stealing a ball in the box and driving in a low shot. He then sent a nice through ball to freshman Seth Talen for a goal four minutes later to make it 2-0. Senior Austin Lutterloh essentially put the game away before halftime, taking a pass on the right side in the 30th minute and scoring to make it 3-0.

“We have a good passing game,” Lutterloh said. “As soon as we get our passing game going and get comfortable, that’s when the goals start coming.”

But the Crusaders didn’t let up, as Corbett Cruver stole a ball near midfield a minute after halftime, and scored after a nice give-and-go with Casey Slattery.

“We try to keep the starters, at least the core, in to keep the flow moving so that we’re not just throwing everyone in the mix in random spots,” said Slattery, who is the 2B state leader with 32 goals and 19 assists.

Talen added his second goal in the 50th minute, driving a shot from the left sideline over the keeper, and Abel Smith followed with a goal a minute later to make it 6-0. Casey Slattery then added his second and third goals in quick succession, the first off of a nice through pass from Talen in the 54th minute.

But for the Crusaders – who feature a blend of experience and youth, including five senior captains – the familiarity extends beyond family ties.

“We all know each other,” said senior defender Alex Teobaldo. “We know how we’re going to play. We know how we’re going to react to certain situations. It gives a better feeling on the field.”

Tacoma Baptist moved to 10-2-1 overall on the year, but followed it up with a 2-1 loss to third-ranked Mount Vernon Christian on Oct. 12. After advancing to the state quarterfinals the past three years, the Crusaders’ veterans believe the team is ready to take the next step this postseason.

“As captains of the team I think it’s time to step it up,” said senior keeper Ben Cooksley, who was credited with his fifth shutout of the season against Mount Rainier Lutheran. “We’re really hungry to get farther. We’re ready for the competition, and we’re excited to see what happens.”

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