Billy Fitzpatrick ‘20 and Jack Milko ‘20
Editor-in-Chief; Staff Writer
Following a trip to the West Coast to take on the San Diego Toreros, the Holy Cross men’s basketball team played its first home game in the month of December against UMass-Boston. A Division III school that competes in the Little East Conference, the Beacons made the short trek down the Mass Pike on Tuesday night and shocked the Crusaders in overtime, 69-66. Holy Cross lead by 15 three minutes before halftime, but the Crusaders could not maintain their lead from that point on. According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the last time Holy Cross lost to a Division III opponent was back in 2003. That year, they lost to Williams, the defending Division III national champions. The men’s team will look to rebound this weekend against a fellow Jesuit school up in Buffalo, the Golden Griffins of Canisius College. – Jack Milko
Well, two weeks ago, I wrote that the women’s team could run the table and win out before Patriot League play. I unfortunately jinxed them as the Crusaders have lost two tough road games in a row: at Rhode Island on Dec. 4, and then at UMass on the Dec. 8. This is not to say they do not have the talent; they are certainly one of the most talented women’s basketball teams in the Northeast. Sometimes, however, shots just do not fall, as this was the story against URI and UMass. Next up, Holy Cross will travel down to Connecticut to take on Sacred Heart. Following that game, HC will host New Hampshire. After Christmas, the Crusaders will head to warmer weather in the Sunshine State to take on North Florida and Stetson, two small Florida schools, before Patriot League play begins on Jan. 2 at Loyola (Md.). – JM
Men’s Ice Hockey
The Holy Cross men’s ice hockey team (3-9-4 overall, 2-8-2-1 Atlantic Hockey) has struggled of late, winning just two of 12 games since the start of November. The Crusaders’ last win came on Nov. 21 in a dramatic third period comeback that saw HC top Sacred Heart 4-3. Sophomore forward Conner Jean scored on a power play with just over ten minutes remaining to bring the Crusaders within one goal. Then, HC shocked the Pioneers by tying the game and then taking the lead within 33 seconds of each other with less than five minutes remaining. Senior forward Kevin Darrar scored the tying goal, followed up by senior defenseman Dalton Skelly to cap the thrilling win. HC secured a point last Saturday, Dec. 7, in a shootout loss at Air Force. – Billy Fitzpatrick
Women’s Ice Hockey
Since Thanksgiving, the women’s ice hockey team (3-12-3 overall, 3-9-0 Hockey East) has gone 1-2, managing to secure the team’s third win of the season, sandwiched by two tough losses to top-five ranked Northeastern. The Crusaders struck early against Merrimack, scoring less than two minutes into the game and hung on for 58 minutes to take a 1-0 win on Dec. 1. Sophomore defender Emma Lange played hero for HC, scoring the game’s lone goal unassisted, the first of her career. Sophomore goaltender Jada Brenon recorded 30 saves. The Crusaders have now swept the season series against Merrimack, taking all three games against the conference foe. HC is back in action after the New Year, when it has a home-and-home against UConn. – BF
Men’s Club Rugby
The Holy Cross men’s club rugby team recently capped a very successful fall season. The club rugby team is a member of the New England Rugby Football Union (NERFU) conference which is a part of the National Small Colleges Rugby Organization (NSCRO). The club lost many talented seniors from last year’s team to graduation, and knew that younger members would have to step up to fill the shoes left by experienced leaders. Head coach Ryan Grant, from Residence Life and Housing, knew this would be a challenge and sought to prepare his young group by scheduling exhibitions against higher-level programs such as Harvard (last April), Providence College (this fall preseason), and UMass-Amherst (during a bye week). These experiences prepared the Crusaders well for their conference season, in which HC ran the table save for one draw to Eastern Connecticut State (which featured a late, 21-point comeback to save secure a draw).
After earning a bye, HC advanced directly to the NERFU semifinals, where the team faced UMaine Farmington. UMaine Farmington entered the match as two-time reigning conference champions, and had eliminated HC from the playoffs the past two years. HC got its revenge by dominating UMaine Farmington in a 52-7 win that placed Holy Cross in the conference finals against No. 7 Colby College, who hosted the tournament. HC took a 15-12 halftime lead, but found themselves down by three in the final moments. The Crusaders miracuously took gained possession from a scrummage restart and scored a try as time expired to win the match and take the NERFU conference title.
Next up was the regional tournament hosted by Siena College the weekend before Thanksgiving. After the thrilling win over No. 7 Colby, HC took loads of confidence into this tournament. Holy Cross’ first opponent was No. 4 Ithaca, and, yet again, Holy Cross took down a top-10 team, winning 22-7 in a gritty, defensive battle. No other team had held Ithaca to less than 24 points the entire season.
On Day 2 of the regional tournament, the Crusaders faced their toughest challenge yet: a tilt against No. 2 Salve Regina in freezing rain with the Northeast regional title on the line. The teams were not able to separate from each other in regulation, and headed into overtime tied 12-12. Salve Regina managed to score a penalty kick in the 20-minute overtime period and hung on to win 15-12 and end Holy Cross’ underdog playoff run. Had HC pulled out the win, the team would have advanced to the NSCRO Final Four in April. The Crusaders finished ranked #5 in the national NSCRO rankings, a huge accomplishment after entering the season unranked. Congratulations to Coach Grant and all the players on a successful campaign! – BF