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Holy Cross drops soccer match 3-1 to Calvin

The Calvin College Knights are a formidable soccer team. Under head coach Ryan Souders, the team is a combined 185-25-10 and has an in-conference record of 105-4-2. 

Souders was first hired in 2012, when he went 16-4-1 and 12-1-1 in MIAA play, finishing in the NCAA playoffs. It would serve as a tone setter for Souders’ tenure at Calvin given that Calvin has finished first in MIAA play for ten consecutive seasons since 2012. Calvin has boasted numerous NCAA tournament runs, including a finals run in 2016. 

As of Sept. 27, Calvin was ranked 11th in the DIII rankings. So, when Calvin called Holy Cross College men’s head soccer coach Omar Gallo looking for a potential match, it would be understandable if Gallo declined. Instead, he eagerly took on the challenge. 

“When they called us looking for a game, we could have turned it down… We looked at this game we had on the schedule as an opportunity that if we were on a winning streak, can we continue to play well and if we were on a losing streak, potentially a game where we can bounce back,” Gallo said.  

The game started fairly even, with the Saints playing in the wind. Calvin, however, gained an advantage because of its disciplined passing attack and scored in the 16th minute. The goal came off a corner kick, which crossed to the far side of the field, centered at the top of the 18. Senior midfielder Chris Schau, who received the kick, put the ball up in the air and crossed it to the far side once again, where senior defender Colin Iverson scored a header. 

The goal was allowed by freshman goalie Isaias Rubio, who got the start over sophomore Claudio Fuentealba. Benching Fuentealba was a tactical decision, according to Gallo.

“We felt like it was a game where we had to give some guys a rest, and you never know when your other goalkeeper is going to get called upon,” he said.  

Rubio struggled to communicate with the backline which helped Calvin to generate some of its chances. It is something he will need to continue to work on in the future, as Gallo plans to continue to play Rubio. 

“[You] just got to understand regardless of if you are a freshman, we want you speaking up as that last line of defense there,” Gallo said. 

The second Calvin chance came off a throw-in late in the 26th minute, with junior midfielder Zach Flowerday receiving a through ball from freshman midfielder Jacob Ryu.

Holy Cross was not without its opportunities, however, as in the 37th minute, Holy Cross earned a corner that was kicked short. The ball was then crossed, with Calvin clearing it out of the 18, where it fell to freshman forward Gabe Nyenka, who just missed on a bending shot. 

Just a few minutes later, in the 42nd minute, Calvin scored off a corner, with freshman TJ McVey crossing the ball to Aguma Muhumuza, who used his head to guide the ball to the back of the net. 

With Holy Cross trailing 0-3, Claudio Fuentealba would come into the net for Holy Cross. Fuentealba would earn the clean sheet with two shots and two saves.

On a routine goal kick in the 55th minute, Calvin sophomore goalkeeper Kaelen Matascastillo passed the ball forward to Muhumuza. The defender lazily caught the pass, and Axel Valenzuela would steal the ball, poking it forward where he beat Matascastillo one-on-one.

The goal would make it 3-1, which would be the final score for the Saints. 

While the loss snaps the three-game win streak the Saints were riding, the loss should not negatively impact the team’s mentality when they resume conference play,

“What we said to the guys: there is nothing to be disappointed about… We made three mental errors, and overall we played very well… if anything, it is going to continue to give us confidence,” Gallo said.

The loss drops the Saints to an overall record of 5-4-1, but their conference record of 2-1-1 will remain the same. 

The Saints will resume action Saturday when they face off against St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. EST. 

Contact Tom Zwiller at tzwiller@hcc-nd.edu

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HCC beats Goshen with freshman goalkeeper

As the 3 p.m. kickoff at Saints field neared, two very different goalkeepers stood opposite each other.

Representing the Holy Cross men’s soccer team stood freshman netminder Isaias Rubio who was making his first start of his collegiate career. Rubio, sporting the number 0, had logged just 4:31 in the previous game against IU East, in which he was substituted for an injured sophomore Claudio Fuentealba.

His opponent was Goshen’s Matias da Fonseca, a fifth-year student who last year alone had 17 starts and logged just over 1,600 minutes in net. He averaged 1.46 goals against, boasted 65 saves (a save % of .714) and recorded three clean sheets.

Given the disparity in resumes between the two players, some coaches might be worried about starting a freshman keep. The Saints’ head coach, Omar Gallo, however, was not.

“Isais is a great goalkeeper. A young guy, a lot of improvements to work on, but at the same time, we have a tremendous amount of confidence in him. He is a quality goalkeeper who could probably start anywhere else in the conference.”

The Saints came out hot to start the game, with sophomore midfielder David Ross earning an unassisted goal halfway past the eight-minute mark.

The Saints followed it up eight minutes later, with freshman midfielder Tristan Alfaro netting a second goal at 16:42, assisted by junior forward Gabe Nyenka.

Despite the quick offensive start, the Saints were not without their mistakes. A defensive lapse, and a misreading of the play by Rubio, allowed for Goshen’s Luiz Matteus Pontes to score at the 24-minute mark, with a halftime score of 2-1.

Just before the half, Rubio was fouled and injured by a Maple Leaf attacker. The injury was enough for the Saints to pull him, instead sending in Claudio Fuentealba to finish out the match.

According to Gallo, the decision was unplanned due to the injury.

“Unfortunately, we had to pull Isaias, but if he wasn’t injured, we would have left him in for the full ninety; he was very deserving.”

Holy Cross began the second half the same way it started the first. At the 64’ minute mark HCC got a corner kick, with Nyenka giving a pass to senior defense Erick Zelaya, who put the ball in on a very tight window.

The Saints followed it up five minutes later with senior midfielder Jeffrey Harper getting past the Leaf’s keeper and scoring an unassisted goal.

With twenty minutes remaining in the game, the Maple Leafs had plenty of time to close the lead, and they certainly made an effort.
At 77:32, Goshen’s Eli Simones headed the ball towards the goal. Fuentealba tipped it, but Simones’ shot hit a post and bounced in. Lucas Bontreger assisted the goal.

Despite some late pushes by Goshen, the Saints held onto a 4-2 win.
In their last two games, the Saints scored seven goals and combined 37 shots, with 25 against Goshen. The offensive success has one source according to Gallo.

“Our depth. We have six guys that can start. The leadership and buy-in with those six guys. They all understand, one game one may start, one game the other one may not start they bought into playing half a game…and we do not skip a beat when we make a sub,” Gallo said.

The men’s team will finish out of conference play on Sept. 7 when they travel to take on Lourdes University, where they hope to improve to 3-1 before facing Cardinal Stritch University on Sept. 10.