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Saints drop semifinals match in overtime

The last time the Holy Cross College men’s soccer team faced the Olivet Nazarene Tigers, the two teams played a fiercely competitive game that ended in a 2-2 draw.

So, it was fitting that when the two teams rematched in the Chicagoland College Athletic Conference Semifinals, they would need overtime to decide a winner.

The game was almost perfectly even in the first half, with the Tigers taking six shots to the Saints’ five. The Saints had a bit of momentum early, taking three of the game’s first five shots, though two offsides calls would stymie their attack on a few promising plays.

The Tigers were able to generate a flurry of opportunities in the 23rd and 33rd minutes. But, the Saints defense rose to the occasion and blocked two shots and forced a third high. The Tigers earned two first-half goal kicks, but the Saints played an unyielding defense.

The teams would trade shot attempts to start the second half, but Olivet eventually got rolling on defense, denying the Saints a single attempt after a shot from junior defender Victor Sellu went wide right in the 55th minute.

Olivet did much better in their attacking zone, taking 11 shots, with Holy Cross sophomore goalkeeper Claudio Fuentealba making the two saves that came his way. After 90 minutes, the game needed overtime to decide the winner.

Once again, the Saints opened with the first shot attempt of the period, this time by sophomore forward Kevin Vidana which was blocked. Olivet, on the other hand, was able to find the game’s first goal in the 94th minute. Tigers attacker Justin Eisenmann, who had had two quality chances earlier in the game, buried his third try off a pass from Max Jasper.

Though the Saints would rally and force one more effort (a header by Sellu that went wide of the net), they would head into the second overtime frame trailing 0-1.

In the 101st minute of play, senior midfielder Axel Valenzuela put up the first shot of the period for the Saints, but it was saved by Mike Giannotta. The Saints would take two more shots, one by Sellu that was high and one by senior midfielder Elmin Ejup that Giannotta again saved.

As the in-stadium announcer began the 10-second countdown, senior midfielder Jeffrey Harper tried a last-ditch corner kick, but it was repelled and then cleared by the Tiger defense, securing their 1-0 victory.

With the win, the Olivet Tigers will advance to face the No. 2 seed Cardinal Stritch Wolves, who survived their own overtime thriller against the Roosevelt Lakers. The Tigers will host the CCAC Championship on Friday.

The Saints now fall 3-12-3 against the Tigers and finish their season with a 10-5-4 overall record and a 7-1-4 record in CCAC play.

Contact Tom Zwiller at tzwiller@hcc-nd.edu.

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Saints unable to continue win streak against Roosevelt University

Holy Cross men’s soccer took the field Tuesday night to face off against Roosevelt University. Going into the match, Roosevelt had a 5-5 record  (4-2 on the road) and had a two-game losing streak. Comparatively, the Saints had a 7-4-1 record, as well as a five-game conference win streak. However, the Saints were unable to continue their streak, as they ultimately tied the Lakers 0-0. 

An early set of fouls on both teams set the mood for the remainder of the match. Within 15 minutes, there had already been six fouls on the pitch. By the end of the 90 minutes, there were three yellow cards thrown, and a total of 31 fouls. 

The first shot of the match would come in the 3rd minute, however the Laker’s Raul Mariscal would miss wide. Nine minutes later, Saints’ senior midfielder Axel Valenzuela would have his turn to score, but Roosevelt’s keeper would save it to keep the game at 0-0. 

The ball would then see multiple transitions to each end of the field. Roosevelt first got off a shot, this time saved by sophomore keeper Claudio Fuentealba. Holy Cross sophomore forward Kevin Vidana followed with an attempt of his own, but the attempt went wide. 

There would be two more shots, one for each team, before Valenzuela earned a yellow card for sliding into the keeper. 

By the end of the first half, the Saints and Lakers sat at 0-0. However, the low scoring did not reflect the action on the field. Holy Cross fired four shots in the first period, and Roosevelt notched seven. 

Holy Cross was off to a slow start in the second period. Within the 49th minute, however, the Saints would seemingly score. However, the goal was negated due to offsides. This was paired with a yellow card against Roosevelt, the second card of the match. 

Seconds later, junior forward Gabe Nyenka earned an opportunity via a header, but it was off target. After this attempt, there were no more shots until the 62nd minute. This time, it was senior midfielder Elmin Ejup, but he hit the crossbar. 

As the clock ticked, with no scoring, both teams grew more aggressive.Throughout the second period, Roosevelt marked six fouls, while Holy Cross had eight. 

A Roosevelt corner kick in the 71st minute would give the Lakers a much needed scoring opportunity. However, with a foul called on Roosevelt, they were unable to execute. 

In the 79th minute, Holy Cross saw two consecutive shots produce no results. The first by senior defender Erick Zelaya was saved, and the second by Ejup high. 

Both teams would fight to the end, and in the last minute of the game, a yellow card was pulled on the Lakers. 

Despite both teams giving their all, neither team would be able to find the back of the net, and the match would finish as it started. 

The Saints now look ahead to a game on the road against Trinity International University. The two teams have played 13 times since 2009 (playing twice in 2021). Holy Cross has the slight advantage of 6-4-3 in the matchup, winning the past four games of the series. 

The Trojans currently have a 6-5 overall record (4-3 conference), but are on a four-game losing streak. 

On Saturday, Oct. 15, head coach Omar Gallo looks to make this his 100th win with the program. However, it will not be an easy game for the Saints, and they must bring their all if they want another win. 

Holy Cross faces off against Trinity International University on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time in Deerfield, Illinois.

Contact Olivia Schatz at oschatz@nd.edu

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Saints soccer splits with Trolls on the road

This weekend both the Holy Cross Men’s and Women’s soccer teams went on the road to Palos Heights, Illinois, facing conference foe Trinity Christian College.

The women’s team played the Trolls first, with the match being very even through the first 30 minutes. Trinity found the edge early, with Brianna Uhl assisting Selah Hopkins in the 33rd minute, giving the Trolls a 1-0 edge over the Saints.

A Holy Cross penalty inside the 18 would give the Trolls a penalty kick opportunity just a few minutes later. Trinity selected Uhl to take the kick, and she converted it, giving the Trolls a 2-0 lead with nine minutes left in the first half. That score would hold heading into halftime.

The second half began much like the first, with the two teams going back and forth, trading shooting opportunities. Like the second half, though, it was the Trolls who would find success on their shots, with a goal by Trinity’s Demi Scibetta in the 63rd minute.

That would be the last goal scored in the game, with the final score Saints 0, Trolls 3.

The Saints attempted 10 total shots (five each half), but only two of those attempts were on net. Trinity took 17 shots and was able to put 12 on net. The loss dropped Holy Cross to 2-4-2 in conference play and kept them at eight points in the conference. The Saints now sit in ninth in CCAC play with just five games left in the season.

The Saints’ next game will be against Roosevelt University on Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. at Saints Field. The Lakers are currently 3-2-2 in conference play and sit above Holy Cross College in ninth. This game is vital for the Saints, as a win would tie them with Roosevelt and give them the head-to-head edge. A loss would put them back six without a rematch.

The two teams have met 10 times since Oct. 6, 2012. In the meetings, the Saints are 3-5-2. The Saints have had a much stronger showing in their last five matches, going 2-2-1 with an even goal differential.

The Men’s team kicked off their games against the Trolls at 3:30 p.m.The first 64 minutes of the contest were a scoreless affair. The first goal came in the 65th minute, off a pass from senior midfielder Axel Valenzuela to junior defender Victor Sellu. The goal put the Saints up 1-0.

The following (and final) goal was also a Saints’ score, with senior midfielder Elmin Ejup scoring unassisted in the 80th minute. The Saints would ride out the next 10 minutes despite three Trinity Christian corner kicks.

Sophomore Claudio Fuentealba earned a shutout on the game, playing all 90 minutes and saving both Trinity shots on goal.

The win improves the Saints to a 5-1-1 CCAC record and a 7-4-1 overall record. Holy Cross now has 16 points and sits third in the conference table. The men’s team also plays Roosevelt University next. The game is at 2 p.m. Oct. 11.

The men’s team has a historically poor record against Roosevelt University. Since 2012, they are just 4-8. In the last five games, the Saints are 2-3 and have been outscored 6-7.

The Roosevelt matchup carries less weight than it does for the women’s team. In the men’s league, the Lakers are 4-3 with just 12 points, ranking them seventh.

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Saints split soccer matchups with Saint Ambrose

Last week when a dominant Calvin College team earned a 3-1 win against the Holy Cross men’s soccer team, head coach Omar Gallo was adamant that his squad would maintain the momentum they had built in conference play.

Gallo’s squad proved him right by beating Saint Ambrose 3-1 on the road.

The Saints got off to a quick start, with senior Axel Valenzuela scoring an unassisted goal right at the nine-minute mark. Despite the quick scoring start, neither squad would score again until the second half.

The next goal would be scored by Saint Ambrose, with Ambrose’s Ethan Holke assisting Joseph Gaither Jr. to score a left-footed strike from outside the 18’.

Holy Cross was unphased by the goal, however, as sophomore Juan Perez assisted senior Erick Zelaya on an HCC goal in the 76th minute. The Saints followed up their second goal with a third, scored by senior Elmin Ejup in the 87th minute.

The goal would stand, and the Saints would pick up a 3-1 CCAC win.

The win propels Holy Cross to a 4-1-1 record in conference, and at 13 points, the Saints are tied for first with Olivet Nazarene. Olivet does hold a tiebreaker as they have played one fewer game.

With an overall record of 6-4-1, the Saints will continue their conference road trip, journeying to Palos Heights, Illinois, where they will take on the Trinity Christian College Trolls.

The Trolls currently sit at 1-5-1 in conference play and are on a five-game losing streak on the season. The Saints are 8-5 against Trinity, dating back to 2009. In the last five matchups between the two squads, Holy Cross is 4-1, with a goal differential of 10 (12-2).

The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 8.

Unlike the men’s game, the Holy Cross women’s soccer team did not get off to a quick start against Saint Ambrose. In fact, neither team got off to a quick start, with the two teams combining for just 12 shots total in the first half, with only four being on net.

Instead, the first goal would come in the 48th minute, with senior Nicole Cook scoring courtesy of a pass from freshman Ashlyn Craig.

Making up for lost time, the Ambrose Fighting Bees would score the following two goals within five minutes of each other to take a 2-1 lead. The Ambrose goals were scored by Kaitlyn Brunson in the 51st minute and the 56th minute by Taylor DeSplinter.

In the 74th minute, Kendall Wendt would increase the Ambrose lead off of a pass by Adriane Latham.

Wendt’s goal would prove crucial as Saints freshman Hannah Lemieux would score with just seven minutes left to make it a 2-3 game. However, Ambrose was able to close it out and hand Holy Cross its first road loss of the season.

The loss sends Holy Cross to 2-3-2 in conference play, putting the Saints in ninth place in the conference. On the season, Holy Cross is 3-3-6.

The women’s team also turns their attention to Trinity Christian. Their game will kick off at 1:00 p.m. on Oct. 8 in Palos Heights, Illinois.

The women’s team does not have the same historical success against Trinity as the men’s. Instead, the Saints are 0-13-1 dating back to 2009. In the last five matchups, the Saints are 0-4-1 against the Trolls. The Saints are 11 goals behind the Trolls in that span, with the combined score sitting at 4-15.

Contact Tom Zwiller at tzwiller@hcc-nd.edu

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Saints honor seniors, earn win and draw versus St. Xavier

This weekend, both the men’s and the women’s Holy Cross soccer teams faced down CCAC foe Saint Xavier in an important conference play matchup.

Matchday also took place on Holy Cross’s Alumni Day, and the matchup served as a senior day for both teams.

The Holy Cross women’s team began by honoring seniors Kathleen Ming and Olivia Shaw.

Ming, a forward, played in 18 games in 2019 and started in 14, scoring four goals and assisting on two. Ming has played eight games for the Saints this season and has started four but has not scored or assisted yet.

Shaw, a midfielder, also played in 18 games, starting 17 and was incredibly productive, scoring 12 goals with three assists. Shaw has scored one goal in the four starts she has gotten this season.

The Saints and Cougars played it even in the first half with neither team scoring, with the shot total at 5-4 in favor of Saint Xavier.

Holy Cross opened up their shooting in the second half, taking ten shots to Xavier’s five (for a total of 14-10, Saints).

The increase in shooting led to an unassisted Nicole Cook goal in the 71st minute, which gave the Saints a 1-0 lead.

With just 44 seconds left in the match, Xavier would earn a penalty kick and Neida Ocampo converted the opportunity, snatching a tie from the jaws of defeat.

By tying Saint Xavier, the women’s team record is 2-2-6 on the year with a 1-2-2 (.400) record in conference play. The Saints now have 5 points and rank 10th in conference play, trailing IU Northwest by one and leading Trinity International by two.

The women turn their attention to Indiana University-South Bend, on Sept. 28, at 2:00 p.m. at Saints Field. IUSB is currently 0-8 on the season with a -60 goal differential, having not scored a goal on the year and conceding on average 7.5 goals per game.

The game should provide a much-needed win for the Saints. The only time the two have met, Holy Cross scored five goals in the first half and won 11-0.

The IUSB program is still incredibly young, as it began just in the 2019-2020 season.

The men’s team began their game by honoring its three seniors, Kamoy Creary, Elmin Ejup and Jeffrey Harper.

Creary, a defensive anchor for Holy Cross, made eight starts last season and played fourteen total games. Creary has made six starts in six games and continues to be a defensive cornerstone.

A South Bend local, Ejup, started in three matches last season but played eighteen and scored once. This season Ejup has already doubled his production, playing and starting in seven games and scoring twice with an assist.

Harper, a midfielder out of San Diego, played 12 matches, starting in six and earned a goal and assist for the Saints. Harper has already scored a goal in his first eight games this season.

The first half featured a defensive battle and neither team could make much offensive progress with shots totaling seven (four for HCC) and the score 0-0.

Much like the women’s team, the Saints increased shooting in the second half and outshot the Cougars 13-6 total. With the increased shooting came a goal in the 76th minute by senior Axel Valenzuela, assisted by junior Gabe Nyenka.

The win for Holy Cross snaps a three-game losing streak against Saint Xavier, dating back to 2019. With the win, Holy Cross is now 5-3-1 on the season, with a 3-1-1 (.700) record in conference play. The win also increases Holy Cross’ win streak to three games and marks the first home win in conference play.

The win vaults the men’s team into second place in the CCAC table, with the team now having 10 points. First place Trinity International currently has 12 points.

Holy Cross will look to continue its winning ways when they play Calvin College on Sept. 27, at 3:00 p.m. at Saint Field.