Billy Fitzpatrick ’20
Chief Sports Editor
The Holy Cross Men’s Soccer team lost an all-important game against Patriot League frontrunner Loyola (Md.) last Saturday in Worcester, Mass. The loss left the Crusaders (2-8-4 overall, 1-4-1 Patriot League) five points back of a playoff spot with three matches (two of them on the road) remaining in the regular season. For the Greyhounds (9-3-1 overall, 4-1-1 Patriot League), the win marked their fourth consecutive victory and they ascended to the top of the league standings. The double-overtime heartbreaking defeat was a huge blow to Holy Cross’ chances of qualifying for the conference playoffs, a year after the Crusaders advanced to the Patriot League Championship Game.
After an uneventful first 25 minutes, the Crusaders bombarded the Loyola defense by scoring twice in quick succession to open up a 2-0 lead. First-year striker Simon Becher found himself on a breakaway after a clearance from senior defender Owen Azrak and poked past the Loyola keeper with his left foot to put the Crusaders up 1-0 in the 26th minute. Just two minutes later, sophomore center-back Edi Mujan connected on a header from a corner kick from sophomore midfielder Max Krause to double the Holy Cross advantage, shocking the Greyhounds in a span of five minutes. However, Holy Cross conceded a penalty on 39 minutes and junior forward Joshua Fawole converted from the spot for Loyola to cut into the deficit before halftime.
The second half had fans on the edge of their seats for the whole 45 minutes. A bad tackle in the box in the 68th minute by Loyola resulted in a scrum and the referee handed out two yellow cards each to Holy Cross and Loyola players. Krause stepped up to take the penalty for Holy Cross, but sophomore keeper Chase Vosvick stopped the Crusader attempt for his third save of a penalty this season, keeping the Greyhounds in the contest. That save would prove crucial ten minutes later when junior midfielder Barry Sharifi put a curling effort from the top of the box into the back of the net to equalise in the 80th minute.
The first overtime period saw Krause hit the post and miss another shot when he found himself in space at the top of the box, the Crusaders’ two best scoring chances of the overtime periods. Holy Cross was three minutes away from earning a draw against the class of the Patriot League when Fawole netted the winner. Holy Cross senior keeper Henry Stutz, who had ten big saves on the day, stopped a Greyhound effort, but the rebound fell to a waiting Fawole right in front of goal, who only had to tap in to cap the comeback for Loyola.
After winning against Navy and tying Lafayette on the road to open the Patriot League campaign, the Crusaders have dropped four straight conference fixtures, losing by only one goal in each of them. It was their fourth league match to go to overtime and the eighth overall. The match against Loyola is a fair representation of Holy Cross’ season as a whole. The team demonstrated its ability to compete with the best of the Patriot League, but also fell short of finishing the job, a recurring theme that has plagued the Crusaders time and again this year. From here on out, they will need to get positive results from their three remaining games, and teams above them such as Army, Boston University, and Lafayette will need to drop points, as well, in order for Holy Cross to qualify for the Patriot League Tournament and make another run at the conference trophy.
Photo Courtesy of Go Holy Cross