DENVER • St. Mary’s coach Lou Sagastume preaches balance for his team.
The No. 6 Pirates have been listening.
St. Mary’s dominated on offense and defense while upsetting No. 2 Faith Christian 1-0 at All-City Stadium in Denver on Saturday to earn the program’s first berth in the 3A soccer championship game.
Senior Evan Niebur’s goal in the 16th minute was all the Pirates (12-5-2) would need.
“We got a good shot on net, the ball bounced my way,” Niebur said. “I got a good touch on it and it trickled in.”
St. Mary’s defense held Faith Christian to two shots on goal.
“We’ve been playing very good defense the last eight games or so,” Sagastume said. “We hadn’t been passing it around like we (wanted to). Today we found our form. You want to be peaking this time of the year.”
St. Mary’s goalie Jacob Calhoun came up with the game’s best save with 14 minutes to play, blocking a header by Faith Christian’s Josh Aschfort from about 5 feet.
The defense did the rest, blocking shots and preventing the Eagles (12-6-1) from any other quality chances. That defense will have to try for the title without starting center back Jacob Morales, who received his second yellow card with 4 minutes remaining.
“It’s definitely going to hurt us, especially this late in the game,” Sagastume said. “He’s a critical player … I don’t understand why they used that group (of referees). That was not a good group of referees.”
St. Mary’s will face TCA at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Tuesday in the title game. Early this season, TCA shut out the Pirates 5-0.
“It’s a totally different team,” Sagastume said. “Much, much better balanced.”
Niebur is looking forward to the rematch.
“It’s going to be really nice to come back and show them who’s boss,” Niebur said.