Is this the year that Concordia Lutheran finally punches through the championship ceiling?
The Crusaders' volleyball program has made it a tradition to advance to the TAPPS Final Four, reaching the State Semifinals in three of the last four seasons and played for the TAPPS 6A state title in 2018.
The Crusaders will look a little different in 2021 as they say goodbye to Brooke Frazier (Texas A&M), who was a four-year starter for them. Returning is a solid group led by first-team, all-state pick Sophia Keene (Baylor- commit) and second-team, all-state selection Sydney Whitfield (Liberty University- commit).
Other key returners include a trio of second- team, all-district picks in Addy Polk (Saint Louis University), Faith Wilkins and Emma Wolf. Also watch out for senior right-side hitter Anna Schatz and senior middle blocker Haley Manjack.
The Crusaders will be under new leadership in 2021 as Brandon Smeltzer takes over the program.
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JEFF ANDERSON HAS ONE GOAL AS THE CONCORDIA LUTHERAN LACROSSE COACH.
"Let me just get a stick in an athlete's hands," he said. "We will take care of the rest."
Lacrosse may be the fastest growing sport in the country, and it is catching on quickly at Concordia Lutheran.
Five years ago, the Crusaders had 13 players… keep in mind you need 10 to play. Now, Anderson has a stable of over 40 student-athletes, a varsity and junior varsity team.
"When we started, no one had ever played lacrosse," he said. "We were teaching the game, not coaching the game. We've grown leaps and bounds and that's what you coach for. Seeing these guys enjoy the game and have a positive experience in lacrosse is our mission."
The Crusaders went 4-7 this season but continue to gain momentum. They are placed in Class D with the likes of Awty International, St. Pius X, The Village School and Emery/Weiner School. As the program grows, the wins will come.
The 2021 Concordia Boys Lacrosse record at first glance may not seem stellar, but it is what the team did in the postseason among other "firsts" in the program's short history that will be remembered this spring.
The team finished third in the Texas High School Lacrosse League (THSLL) Class D South District in the regular season. There were several highlights including the team's four wins this spring which were a program record.
Historically, Concordia had never made it past the first round of the playoffs in its first four seasons (2017-2020). This year, the Crusaders faced off against St. Pius X in the City Tournament Semifinals where they avenged a 11-9 loss in the regular season, and beat the Panthers 10-8 for the program's first postseason victory.
The Crusaders advanced to the City Championship game against Emery/ Weiner School where they narrowly missed out on making the State Final Four losing a back-and-forth battle, 9-7.
The Concordia Lacrosse program had several players honored for their work on the field as voted by the coaches in the District. This year, six Crusaders were recognized as all-state, two as all-district, three as honorable mention and assistant coach Dan Woodend was selected as Assistant Coach of the Year. This is the first season that Concordia had any players honored as all-state.
"It's all word of mouth here and our players are our best advocates for our program," he said. "We won one game our first year and now we are stringing together wins. We are having so many multiple-sport athletes come out for the program… five basketball players and several soccer and football players. Athletes who understand defense and playing with their feet."
For Anderson and Concordia Lutheran, lacrosse is here to stay.
"Texas lacrosse is not going to sneak up on anyone anymore," he said. "The popularity is at an all-time high and it's only going to get better. Texas loves its high school sports and this is the next big thing."
At the end of the season, head coaches selected an All-Star team of THSLL Class D South District athletes and Concordia had a total of 12 athletes selected to play on the Red Team.
In the All-Star game, four Crusaders registered in the scoring column including Midfield Owen Segura (Sr.) who finished with 2 goals and 1 assist. Midfield Philip Semple (Jr.) had 1 goal and 1 assist, while Attack Ben Smith (Sr.) and Midfield Jadon Finn (Jr.) each nabbed a goal.
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