State of the Saints: How Holy Cross soccer fared over fall break
Thomas Zwiller | Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Fall break is much less relaxing for student-athletes than for the average student. Games scheduled for the break have massive playoff implications for both the Holy Cross men’s and women’s soccer teams.
Last year, the women’s team spent fall break securing their playoff berth, and the men locked up home field for the opening round. This year is a little different, however.
When fall break officially began on October 14th, the Saints sported a 4-8-1 (2-4-1) record. Not ideal by any means, as it had them outside of the playoffs. But last year’s fall break saw the Saints improve their conference record from 3-4-2 to 5-5-3, which got them into the playoffs.
Part of that run included a 5-1 win over Roosevelt, a 1-1 tie against Trinity International, and boat races of IU Northwest and Calumet by a combined 27-0. The Saints would need similar magic this year as they faced Saint Xavier for Senior Day before heading on the road to face Judson and Trinity Christian.
Senior Day saw the Saints match Saint Xavier on an emotional and stormy day, and the first half was scoreless. Saint Xavier took control early in the second as sophomore midfielder Veronica Davila scored at 51:41 with an assist from junior forward Esmeralda Diaz.
Saint Xavier iced the game in the closing minutes when forward freshman Alex Jonaitis scored at 84:29.
The Saints then focused on their next challenge: a road game at Judson University. Unlike the match against Saint Xavier, the Saints fell behind early as junior midfielder Kelly Leon scored in the 22nd minute.
Judson built on their momentum, outshooting the Saints 13-9 in the first half, culminating in Leon earning a brace as Judson took a 2-0 lead. Judson put the game away in the second half with their third and final goal, as junior midfielders Yeyahs Macias scored at 61:21.
The team’s third and final game during the break came against Trinity Christian. It seemed like it might go the way of the prior two matches when senior midfielder Kara Amidon put Trinity on the board 15 minutes into the contest. But Holy Cross kept it a close game, and Abigail Fouts scored the Saint’s first goal of October off a pass from Hannah Lemieux.
In the 88th minute, however, disaster struck, and Trinity was awarded a penalty kick, with senior defender Demi Scibetta converting the opportunity, giving the Trolls a 2-1 win.
Coming out of the break, Holy Cross has a record of 4-11-1 (2-7-1) and is on a five-game losing streak. That also means the Saints, who sit in ninth in conference play, will likely miss the postseason.
There is a path for the Saints, but they need two different things to happen. First, the team must win its matchup against IU South Bend (IUSB) this Wednesday. Then, the Saints would need Roosevelt to lose their matchup against IU Northwest.
The good news? In each of their past two meetings, the Saints have beat IUSB by 11. The win would give the Saints three points for a season total of 10, allowing them to sneak into eighth place.
The bad news? In all-time matchups between Roosevelt and IU Northwest, the Lakers are 2-0 with an average margin of victory of 4. Should the game result in a tie, Roosevelt would have 10 conference points and beat Holy Cross in a head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Saints will look to keep their postseason hopes alive and find their first win of the month when they host IUSB on Wednesday. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m ET.
The men’s team has fared a bit better this season. Going into the break, they had a one-game winning streak and had recently tied Olivet Nazarene, the best team in the CCAC. They had an overall record of 5-7-3 with a conference record of 3-3-2.
On Senior Day, the Saints took an early lead in the first half as junior midfielder Isa Sayeed scored, with the assist going to junior forward Isaac Filippo. The Saints maintained their lead until the 73rd minute when Xavier scored the equalizer. The tie only lasted for 73 seconds, as Saint Xavier took a 2-1 lead at 74:13.
Xavier put the game out of reach with a goal in the 86th minute, handing Holy Cross a 1-3 loss.
The Saints had a solid bounce-back performance in their next game, where they shut out Judson University, winning 2-0. Junior forward Kevin Vidana scored in the first half and Filippo early in the second.
The Saints then traveled to Palos Heights to take on the Trinity Christian Trolls in a game that could help the Saints secure home field in the opening round of the playoffs. The game was a defensive affair, as the two teams combined for just ten shots, while fouls totaled 25.
The game was decided in the 86th minute as senior midfielder Fernando Rosales scored the game-winner for Trinity Christian.
After three games over the break, the Saints finished 6-9-3 overall, including a 4-5-2 mark in conference play. The team has 14 points in conference play, which is good enough for seventh in the current standings.
The team does not control its own destiny, however. While the Saints have completed their regular season schedule, Judson, Viterbo, and St. Ambrose all have conference games left.
Judson, who currently has 13 points overall, has yet to play Saint Xavier. The Saints would need Judson to either lose or tie, as the Saints have a key head-to-head matchup advantage. Judson’s final game is a non-conference matchup.
Viterbo currently has 12 points but has two conference games remaining against Saint Ambrose and Olivet Nazarene. Should Viterbo go 2-0, though an unlikely scenario, they would make the conference playoffs ahead of Holy Cross.
If they went 1-1, they would advance over the Saints. They would fall short if they lose to Olivet and tie St. Ambrose. Two ties would result in two points, tying them with the Saints. Because the two squads tied 2-2 earlier in the year, it would result in a secondary tiebreaker of goals allowed in conference play, of which Holy Cross leads 17-19.
St. Ambrose, who also has 12 points, faces Viterbo and Governors State. All the scenarios that apply to Viterbo also apply to St. Ambrose. The key difference is that should St. Ambrose tie the Saints in points, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
All the Saints can do now is watch and wait. Judson hosts Saint Xavier at 8 p.m. ET this Saturday. Viterbo hosts Saint Ambrose this Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET.