Billy Fitzpatrick ‘20
Editor’s note: All stats and records are accurate as of Tuesday, October 1, before Holy Cross’ game against Boston University on Wednesday, October 2.
About a month into its season, the College of the Holy Cross men’s soccer team is still looking for its first win, having suffered a handful of devastating losses thus far. The Crusaders (0-8 overall, 0-2 Patriot League) have struggled to find consistency, but have put in a number of competitive performances against marquee programs. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable moments of the season through the first eight games.
1-2 defeat to UMass Lowell (Friday, September 6)
After a cross country training trip to California to start the season, Holy Cross played its home opener against in-state rivals UMass Lowell, a borderline top 25 program and one of the region’s best teams. Playing before a rowdy Friday night crowd, the Crusaders made the River Hawks (5-2-1 overall, 1-0 America East) earn their win in a back-and-forth contest that HC felt it could have won.
Holy Cross fell behind early when UMass Lowell scored from across in the 15th minute. The Crusaders looked headed for a big defeat when Lowell doubled its lead in the 32nd after a strike from junior Roko Prsa hit the crossbar and found the net.
Minutes later, two fresh faces combined to cut the lead in half and bring life back to a pesky Holy Cross side. First-year attacking midfielder Bobby Manella lobbed a ball over the Lowell defense, while fellow first-year forward Emmanuel Petrov met the pass on the other end and buried it for his first career collegiate goal. It was a surreal moment for the young Petrov, as chants of “Manny! Manny!” from the HC faithful showed that the Crusaders were back in the game.
However, after a busy and chaotic first 45 minutes, both teams went goalless in the second half. Holy Cross had good chances to level the score, with one-on-ones from Manella and sophomore forward Dylan Scanley coming up empty. HC outshot the River Hawks 13-4. Despite the loss, the Crusaders surely would have felt confident after such a competitive performance against a perennially strong Lowell team.
Head coach Marco Koolman shared his thoughts post-game: “The first [few minutes] were a little bit nervous but we still caught them on a few chances. In the second half we played much better and settled down a bit to create more chances. There were a lot of positives, especially with having six freshmen on the field at one point. We will continue to improve.”
2-3 defeat to Boston College (Tuesday, September 10)
Holy Cross hosted Jesuit rivals Boston College (5-2-2) following the UMass Lowell tilt. Despite a masterful performance from junior midfielder Max Krause, the Eagles pulled out a 3-2 win thanks to a late winner.
The Crusaders again fell behind early against BC, conceding a goal in the 16th minute to first-year midfielder Mike Suski. Suski was played in with a through ball and poked a tidy finish past senior Holy Cross goalkeeper Bobby Hurstak, who had little chance to make a save. The score would remain 1-0 in favor of the visitors going into halftime.
Krause set the tone for an explosive second half in the 56th minute. Manella laid the ball off for the German just outside of the 18-yard box, and Krause fired a rocket that caromed off the crossbar and into the BC goal. Krause’s equalizer marked his first goal of the season, and Manella picked up his second assist of the season on the play.
However, Boston College answered less than five minutes later with an equally stunning goal. Imitating Krause’s score from just a few minutes earlier, first-year midfielder Amos Shapiro-Thompson sent a missile from outside the box that made its way into the net via crossbar to re-take the lead and stun the home crowd.
The Crusaders got their chance to again level the score when a BC foul gave Holy Cross a free kick in a dangerous position from about 24 yards out. Krause, a set piece specialist, sent his effort through the BC wall and found the back of the net to bring the score to 2-2 with just 15 minutes remaining.
The Holy Cross goal was under continuous pressure in the moments after Krause’s second equalizer, as HC found itself putting ten men behind the ball while BC kept pushing forward for a late winner. The visitors finally broke the tie in the 83rd minute, when a broken play off of a corner kick resulted in a volleyed effort from sophomore midfielder Jesus Sahagun that found the back of the net.
While both the UMass Lowell and Boston College losses were tough to swallow, Holy Cross could at least look at these two performances and garner some belief that it could compete with top programs.
2-3 defeat (2OT) to Lafayette (Saturday, September 28)
Last Saturday, Holy Cross had its first home conference game of the season, playing host to a strong Lafayette team (6-2-1 overall, 2-0 PL). After a 4-0 away loss to Navy to open up conference play, the Crusaders were looking to bounce back with a positive result. They conceded the first goal of the game again, as the Leopards scored in the 18th minute to open up a 1-0 advantage. Neither team would score again in the first half, and HC went into the locker room facing a one-goal deficit.
That would change shortly after halftime. In the 47th minute, Krause, in a return to the pitch after missing time with an injury, set up first-year midfielder Jack Ostrosky for his first career goal, a crucial one that tied the game. Continuing his dynamic performance, Ostrosky sent a through ball in the direction of Scanley, who met it on the other end and tucked it away for the sophomore’s first goal of the season. All of the sudden, the Crusaders held a 2-1 advantage with a half hour of soccer remaining.
The Crusaders’ first lead of the season proved to be short-lived. Lafayette equalized in the 76th minute, and neither team could break through in the last quarter hour of regulation. The first ten-minute overtime period saw both teams locked in a stalemate, and a draw looked increasingly likely. With just over 60 seconds remaining, however, the Leopards capitalized on a broken play and managed to score a winner, leaving Holy Cross in shock. While Lafayette figures to be one of the best teams in the Patriot League this year, the Crusaders will be tired of taking moral victories from heartbreaking losses. Time will tell if they can fulfill the promise they have shown early on and start winning games.