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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The Observer

Saints men’s soccer program sets unbeaten streak record

The Holy Cross men’s soccer team got off to an unusually poor start this season when they lost 6-1 against the Bethel Pilots. The Saints hung around with No. 21 ranked Pilots for the first half, going to the break tied 1-1. However, the Saints made mistakes, and the eventual national champions made them pay for it.

Head coach Omar Gallo was not surprised by the result, nor did it deter him.

“Going into the match, we knew that we were going to be playing a very disciplined team. I thought, for the most part, we held our own, 1-1 at half. From a disciplinary standpoint, we just lost our composure and made some key mistakes … but if anything, it fueled our season,” Gallo said.

The Saints rebounded from the loss, defeating IU East 3-0 and Goshen College 4-2. The team then went on its first road game against Lourdes University, where they fell in a 1-0 contest.

Sitting at 2-2, the Saints began their Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) schedule. The results were initially less than optimal. Back-to-back goal-keeping snafus saw the Saints fall against Cardinal Stritch and draw against Judson University.

“It was two games where we made two key mistakes that really emphasized the importance of staying disciplined for a full 90 minutes,” said Gallo.

While that tie was initially a disappointing result, it wound up being the beginning of a 12-game conference unbeaten streak. The run took them well into November and set a program record. Pivotal in the streak was a win against Governors State, where the Saints snagged a 2-1 road victory.

Building on their momentum, the team got wins against the University of St. Francis (1-0), Saint Xavier (1-0), and Saint Ambrose (3-1), as well as Trinity Christian (2-0).

The Saint’s conference win streak was snapped with back-to-back ties against Roosevelt University and Trinity International University, though the unbeaten streak lived on.

Holy Cross got back to its winning ways with a 3-0 win against IU Northwest (giving Gallo his 100th program win) and then a 6-0 thrashing of Calumet College a few days later.

The Saints closed out their regular season against No. 15 Olivet Nazarene in Bourbonnais, Illinois, and the team came away with a surprise 2-2 tie. The tie gave the squad an overall record of 10-4-4 and a conference record of 7-1-4, which got them the fourth seed in the tournament.

Fourth place allowed the Saints to host their first-ever, first-round conference playoff game as the squad took on Judson University. The peak-form Saints had little to worry about as they thrashed the Eagles 3-0.

The Saint’s season ended in a nail-biter when they returned to Bourbonnais to face Olivet. Though it was a valiant effort, the squad fell short in double overtime, falling 0-1.

“We were competitive in every single game [in conference]. There was not one game that we were blown out … we went 7-1-4, one loss in conference that is a tremendous season”, Gallo said. “We didn’t get [an at-large bid], so that means we didn’t do enough. But when I look at the season, it was steps in the process in order to accomplish what we want to accomplish, whether it’s this year or next year.”