Dexter entered Tuesday’s District semifinal game facing a huge challenge – their biggest challenge of the year. Trying to knock off Skyline would require the tough task of outscoring them, and it wasn’t going to be easy to put one in the net against the Eagles.
Not with Caleb Sauers standing along the back line as Skyline’s last line of defense before the keeper. The senior helped Skyline pitch a shutout against the equally talented Dreadnaughts in a 2-0 win to advance to Thursday’s championship game.
Sauers is the rare combination of excellent skills, aggressiveness, experience and soccer smarts. He never backs down on a ball and has that sense to know where the ball needs to go once he gets it on his foot.
“This District is always tough, but I think we are up to the challenge this year,” Sauers said before the Dexter game. “We have a lot of seniors on our team, and these next games could be some of the last games some of us might ever play. I think this will help push our guys to play to our best abilities and really put on a good show. We need to be 100 percent focused on the task at hand in order for us to be able to win and move on to our next game.”
Well, the Eagles are doing exactly that – moving on to their next game. And Sauers says he’s “really excited about this Skyline team.”
“I feel as though we really bonded through the summer since our summer practices were really the most normalcy that we had,” he said. “We all really became brothers and have been with each other through these uncertain times with COVID and everything else.
“Our goal coming into this year was to make it farther than we did last year. After coming off of that state championship run in 2018, losing in the second round of Districts in 2019 was devastating and I don’t think any of the guys want to go through that again.”
Caleb, the son of Paul and Sarah Sauers, has a 3.5 GPA and is doing the best he can in meeting the challenges of experiencing his senior year during a pandemic.
“Staying focused has become a pretty difficult task for me, especially while attempting to do my school work at home,” he says. “It’s also hard not being able to see my friends and peers at school and hanging out with people at lunch and in between classes.”
It’s also been challenging on the pitch.
“Not having spectators at the game has been pretty hard, especially with my family not being able to come to my games,” he said. “Along with no spectators, playing with a mask on was definitely something that took some getting used to. Masks are necessary for the safety of our team and the teams which we play, but playing with a mask was pretty difficult at first and required some extra conditioning over the summer.”
Sauers first started playing soccer at a young age and had three older siblings who also played. There was always a soccer ball around so he could give it a kick.
“I grew up watching them play in high school, and eventually watched my two older brothers play at Grace College in Indiana,” he said. “Seeing my siblings all play the same sport and loving it for the most part, I had to get in on the fun. I love that much of soccer is based on teamwork and success often comes when a team is able to work together.”
Sauers, who just switched club teams from Liverpool International Academy to the Michigan Jaguars, was on the Skyline team that won the 2018 State Title. He calls that one of the highlights of his high school career – so far, anyway.
“I didn’t play much, but it meant a lot to me to learn under those seniors and those players,” he says. “I have also been a captain for the 02 Liverpool boys’ team for the past couple years. I was a starter last year and scored a couple goals, my favorite being a goal I scored against Saline. I hope to help the team in this playoff run as much as I can.”
Sauers says playing college soccer has always been a dream of his. Every day he gets closer and closer to having to make that decision. “I still question if I want to play in college, but I will probably have to make a decision soon,” he says. “I am currently in talks with a couple NAIA and Division 3 schools, but I have still not chosen a school yet.”
He’s got other things on his mind – like Thursday’s District final.