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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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Sports

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