The Holy Cross College women’s soccer team concluded its regular season Wednesday when they faced off against Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois.
The Saints came into the game hoping to move up in the conference standings. A win-along with a Judson and Saint Xavier loss this weekend could have moved the Saints into sixth in the conference standings, making the bracket in the conference tournament a little bit easier.
Instead, the Saints took a tough road loss to finish their regular season. Holy Cross struggled to generate offense in the first half, attempting only one shot, while Olivet took seven. The Saints were also only able to generate one corner kick to Olivet’s three.
Olivet capitalized on their chances early. Sara Loichinger assisted Melea Miller midway through the first half to give Olivet a lead they would not lose.
The Saints’ hopes of catching up to Olivet were dashed almost immediately in the second half, with the Tigers’ Alaina Bahr scoring an unassisted goal in the 46th minute. Almost 15 minutes later, Marissa Anderson would score the third goal, also unassisted. Her goal put Olivet up 3-0, which would also serve as the final score.
The Saints finish their regular season with an overall record of 6-5-7 and a conference record of 5-5-3.
While the Saints certainly could have used the win to progress in the standings, the loss is not overly damaging. Thanks to a 5-1 win against Roosevelt University back on Oct. 12, the Saints have a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lakers. So even if the Lakers win their regular-season finale on Friday, Holy Cross has the edge.
The only question remaining for the women is who their opponent will be. The Saints are firmly locked into the No. 8 seed, meaning they will be on the road no matter what. It also means the Saints will face off against the top-seeded regular season conference champions.
There are currently three teams who could wind up as the conference regular season champs: the Cardinal Stritch Wolves, the Olivet Nazarene Tigers and the Saint Ambrose Fighting Bees. Stritch and Olivet are currently tied at 31 points apiece. Ambrose is just behind with 29 points.
Olivet finishes its regular season against CCAC foe Calumet, with the game kicking off at 11 a.m. CT. This matchup would be shocking if Olivet did not win. Calumet is last in the conference at 0-11 in CCAC play with just one goal for and 83 goals against.
Stritch is playing host to St. Francis Illinois, a playoff team looking to move up in the standings to snag a home playoff game. Considering that Stritch boasts a 9-3 record against St. Francis with six consecutive wins against them, the Wolves will likely win their matchup too.
St. Ambrose also plays on Saturday but faces a non-conference foe. They will not play their final conference matchup until Nov. 1, when they take on Calumet, which should also be a relatively easy win.
Given that all three of these games would seem to be reasonably easy wins, St. Ambrose is the least likely Holy Cross opponent, as they would need both Olivet and Stritch to lose, along with a win, in order to move into first with 32 points.
The likely scenario is that Stritch and Olivet both win, giving them 34 points apiece, meaning it would come down to tiebreakers. The CCAC bylaws state that the first tiebreak in a conference standings tie is a head-to-head result. Since Olivet won against Stritch 3-1 in early October, Olivet is likely to become the regular season champion.
It also means that when the conference tournament begins on Nov. 5, the Holy Cross Saints will pick up right where they left off — facing the Olivet Nazarene Tigers in Bourbonnais, Illinois.
Contact Tom Zwiller at firstname.lastname@example.org