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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
The Observer

Holy Cross women’s soccer puts ‘we’ before ‘me,’ looks to promising future

Holy Cross women’s soccer had an up-and-down year, finishing 6-6-7 (5-5-3 in CCAC play). Despite multiple injuries, the team was able to battle through and qualify for the conference tournament where they fell in the first round. 

When asked about the best moment of the season, Saints head coach Omar Gallo pointed to the season opener against Bethel.

“We were down 3-0 and were able to tie 3-3, while having an opportunity to win,” Gallo said. “Coming back from 3-0 in soccer is never easy, but that experience allowed us to stay confident in games and throughout the season when our backs were against the wall.”

Last season, senior midfielder Olivia Shaw set the career goals record for the Holy Cross program, but her total was eclipsed this year by her teammate, senior midfielder Lauren Cernak.

Unfortunately, this past season Olivia was out for half the season with [an] injury, however, once Lauren broke the record, Olivia was one of the first to congratulate her,” Gallo said. “Their competitiveness, drive and support for one another is the reason why our team has had success since they both arrived. Since their arrival in 2019, both Lauren and Olivia striving for excellence has created a competitive environment.”

Both Cernak and Shaw were part of the first recruiting class put together by Gallo. All the members of that class, except for senior forward Kathleen Ming, plan to return for a fifth and final season in 2023.

“Their leadership, discipline and dedication to the program, on and off the pitch, has allowed us to compete in both non-conference and in conference,” Gallo said about the Saints’ strong senior class.

Their return, as well as the success of this year’s freshmen, are encouraging signs for next season.

“Our [freshman] defensive midfielder Hannah [Lemieux] really stepped up and played some big minutes for us,” Gallo said. “Hannah has established herself as one of the top defensive midfielders in the conference leading with 17 points in that position. Another player that really surprised us as a freshman was [forward] Mia Garatoni. Her work rate, and ability to be in the right place at the right time, is what we needed from our No. 9.”

In addition, Gallo showed excitement for his incoming recruiting class.

“We are just as excited for the 2023 class and believe this will be one of our top classes,” he said. “We were very specific with our needs for this class and targeted some big-time players, not only locally, but we’ve also brought in a couple girls from California and Florida. We’ve been able to sign an additional four girls from the Girls Academy, which is one of the highest levels of competition in the U.S.”

However, for Gallo, it all comes back to the culture around the team.

“Overall, we’ve just been lucky to have a group of girls and coaches who believe in the mission of the college and the mission of the team,” he said. “We’ve created a “We” before “Me” mentality, and once you get players to buy into that, anything is possible. Though we haven’t won a championship yet, I know it’s coming and wouldn’t be surprised if it happens in 2023.”