As the 3 p.m. kickoff at Saints field neared, two very different goalkeepers stood opposite each other.
Representing the Holy Cross men’s soccer team stood freshman netminder Isaias Rubio who was making his first start of his collegiate career. Rubio, sporting the number 0, had logged just 4:31 in the previous game against IU East, in which he was substituted for an injured sophomore Claudio Fuentealba.
His opponent was Goshen’s Matias da Fonseca, a fifth-year student who last year alone had 17 starts and logged just over 1,600 minutes in net. He averaged 1.46 goals against, boasted 65 saves (a save % of .714) and recorded three clean sheets.
Given the disparity in resumes between the two players, some coaches might be worried about starting a freshman keep. The Saints' head coach, Omar Gallo, however, was not.
“Isais is a great goalkeeper. A young guy, a lot of improvements to work on, but at the same time, we have a tremendous amount of confidence in him. He is a quality goalkeeper who could probably start anywhere else in the conference.”
The Saints came out hot to start the game, with sophomore midfielder David Ross earning an unassisted goal halfway past the eight-minute mark.
The Saints followed it up eight minutes later, with freshman midfielder Tristan Alfaro netting a second goal at 16:42, assisted by junior forward Gabe Nyenka.
Despite the quick offensive start, the Saints were not without their mistakes. A defensive lapse, and a misreading of the play by Rubio, allowed for Goshen’s Luiz Matteus Pontes to score at the 24-minute mark, with a halftime score of 2-1.
Just before the half, Rubio was fouled and injured by a Maple Leaf attacker. The injury was enough for the Saints to pull him, instead sending in Claudio Fuentealba to finish out the match.
According to Gallo, the decision was unplanned due to the injury.
“Unfortunately, we had to pull Isaias, but if he wasn’t injured, we would have left him in for the full ninety; he was very deserving.”
Holy Cross began the second half the same way it started the first. At the 64’ minute mark HCC got a corner kick, with Nyenka giving a pass to senior defense Erick Zelaya, who put the ball in on a very tight window.
The Saints followed it up five minutes later with senior midfielder Jeffrey Harper getting past the Leaf’s keeper and scoring an unassisted goal.
With twenty minutes remaining in the game, the Maple Leafs had plenty of time to close the lead, and they certainly made an effort.
At 77:32, Goshen's Eli Simones headed the ball towards the goal. Fuentealba tipped it, but Simones’ shot hit a post and bounced in. Lucas Bontreger assisted the goal.
Despite some late pushes by Goshen, the Saints held onto a 4-2 win.
In their last two games, the Saints scored seven goals and combined 37 shots, with 25 against Goshen. The offensive success has one source according to Gallo.
“Our depth. We have six guys that can start. The leadership and buy-in with those six guys. They all understand, one game one may start, one game the other one may not start they bought into playing half a game…and we do not skip a beat when we make a sub," Gallo said.
The men’s team will finish out of conference play on Sept. 7 when they travel to take on Lourdes University, where they hope to improve to 3-1 before facing Cardinal Stritch University on Sept. 10.