Saints starting squad to return ready to make CCAC run
Jamison Cook | Friday, May 13, 2022
The Holy Cross men’s soccer team finished their season a lot stronger than they started, bouncing back from a 3-4-2 start to win six of their last eight games en route to a 9-6-2 overall record. The Saints’ early-season struggles ultimately caused them to fall just short of the postseason, but head coach Omar Gallo was encouraged by the way his team played down the stretch.
“We started a very young team — 7 underclassmen with 5 of those being freshmen — and anytime you do that there will be growing pains,” he said. “From teaching a certain style of play to having discipline on and off the field, everything requires growth and these young guys have really stepped up towards the second half of the season and during the off-season. For that, I am proud of them and felt the season went as well as it could.”
The growing pains that Gallo mentioned were felt both on and off the field, as young players had not played in a while or experienced the demands of a college education due to COVID. With a focus on finding a balance between school and sports, Gallo and his staff were able to see tangible improvement on the field as the season progressed.
“We did a lot of goal setting with players to encourage them to stay disciplined and engaged, goals that we knew were achievable both on and off the pitch to boost their confidence, not only as a soccer player but more importantly as people,” Gallo said. “Most of our young players really bought into this philosophy and as the season went on, results started showing that what the staff put in place was working. You are always going to have those one or two players that struggle with the expectations/standards, but as a staff, we try and stress the importance of how athletics relates to life skills. The ones that have understood that have really excelled, especially in the classroom with our underclassmen maintaining a 3.3 team GPA.”
Gallo has watched this progress continue into the offseason, and what he and his staff have seen has made them optimistic about the future. Between his three seniors returning for their fifth year and his underclassmen growing up fast, Gallo has a nearly identical roster to a year ago. Their main difference? They’re more mature and ready to make some noise in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
These guys have really excelled and taken their work ethic and game to another level,” he said. “On the pitch, we are returning 10 players that started the last few games of the season, which is promising. We had some great results and even the games we lost we had an opportunity to win. That being said, the expectation for this group is to make a run in the CCAC and hopefully clinch a home field playoff game.”