Billy Fitzpatrick ’20
Let’s take a look at how two Holy Cross athletics teams, women’s soccer and men’s basketball, have fared recently.
The Holy Cross women’s soccer team (5-3-8 overall, 3-1-5 Patriot League) secured a decisive 3-0 victory at home over Bucknell to send the Crusaders into the Patriot League playoffs last Friday, Nov. 1., for the first time in 19 years. Sophomore forward Caroline Harkins kept HC in the game with a dramatic goal line clearance in the 18th minute that denied the Bison a go-ahead goal. With the game scoreless at the break, the relentlessness of the Holy Cross attack took over, with HC pouring in three goals in the second half.
Harkins added to her startling display in the 58th minute when made a run from midfield to the top of the box, and then fired a shot that deflected off the Bison goalkeeper’s hand, off the crossbar, and into the goal to put HC up 1-0. First-year forward Katie Quinn capitalized on a Bucknell mistake in the 82nd minute to add an insurance goal, while junior midfielder Jenna Barnes put the icing on the cake by converting a one-on-one in the 85th.
The win propelled the Crusaders to a second-place regular season finish in the Patriot League. HC will take on the three-seed, Army West Point, in the PL Semifinals tonight (Nov. 8) in Annapolis, Md. The two teams faced off on Sept. 22 in Worcester and played to a 1-1 2OT draw. If the Crusaders can beat Army, they will take on the winner of the other semifinal matchup between one-seed Navy and Loyola (Md.) on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 1:00 PM. Holy Cross beat Navy 1-0 at home last month, and tied Loyola 1-1 in double overtime earlier this season.
The Holy Cross men’s basketball team – full of new faces both on the court and on the bench – kicked off its 2019-2020 season with a road loss to a top-10 team in #7 Maryland, 95-71. First-year point guard Drew Lowder led the Crusaders with 24 points and five assists in an impressive collegiate debut. The Crusaders held a 19-16 lead seven minutes into the game, but Maryland rattled off a 17-5 run to take control of the game for good. The Terrapins, who come into this season as contenders for both a Big Ten title and a Final Four appearance, were simply too physical for HC, winning the rebound battle 47-33 and getting to the free throw line 24 times to Holy Cross’ five. First-year forward Joe Pridgen totaled 12 points and eight boards in his first collegiate game.
This was the Crusaders’ first game under first-year head coach Brett Nelson, who takes the HC job after spending the last five years as an assistant at Jesuit basketball powerhouse Marquette. Nelson has a re-building job ahead of him, with HC losing five key players from last year’s team: Jehyve Floyd, Pat Benzan, and Matt Zignorski to graduation, and Jacob Grandison and Caleb Green to transfers. The only returning starter from last year’s team is junior wing Austin Butler, who struggled at Maryland, but will have to supply leadership and offensive production for this young squad. Junior forward Connor Niego looks to bounce back from a sophomore season that was mostly lost to injury.
Holy Cross travels to New Hampshire this Saturday before taking on Fairfield for the home opener Tuesday Nov. 12 at 7:05 PM.