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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 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.