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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

Saints end non-conference play on sour note against Calvin

A change of pace could not come at a better time for Holy Cross men's soccer. After a strong 2-1-0 start, the Saints have fallen into a rut in non-conference play. Over their last four games, they have been outscored 10-4, conceding multiple goals in three of those matches. That streak continued Tuesday against Calvin, as Holy Cross fell to 0-3-1 over its last four contests with a 3-1 loss to Knights.

It's not that the Saints have been consistently getting blown out in games. Though a two-goal loss is significant in soccer, Tuesday's match was tied deep into the second half. However, Holy Cross was behind the eight-ball for most of the game. It took barely 10 minutes for Calvin to take the lead, as Hans Pruis notched his first tally of the year on a feed from Jonah Meyer-Crothers.

That goal would be a sign of what was to come in the opening 45 minutes. The Saints came out of the gates very sluggish, and the Knights were happy to take advantage. Calvin outshot Holy Cross 7-1 and had the only two corner kicks of the opening half. If not for a couple of key saves from junior goalkeeper Armin Mahmutovic, Calvin could've put the game out of reach before halftime.

But the teams went to break with the score still 1-0. Whatever Holy Cross head coach Omar Gallo told his team at halftime, it worked. The Saints outshot Calvin 11-5 over the final 45 minutes and went from generating zero corners in the first half to three in the second. Even more importantly, the Saints found what it took to put a ball in the back of the net. Junior forward Juan Perez buried his first goal of the campaign just 5:45 into the half to bring Holy Cross level.

However, Calvin was able to make the most of the opportunities they created in the second stanza. About 15 minutes after Perez's goal, Jacob Ryu found Oliver Akintade for his team-leading third goal of the year to put Calvin back in front. Although the Saints kept pushing, the Knights' defense and goalkeeper Daniel Morgan held down the fort. A massive insurance goal by Ryu on a penalty kick put the game out of reach with 5:42 remaining.

With Calvin now behind them, the Saints will look for greater success as they begin their conference slate. Last year, the team went 7-1-4 in conference play, finishing fourth in the standings. Calvin improves to an impressive 6-0-0 with the victory. The Saints kick off CCAC play against the Governors State Jaguars, who should present an easier matchup as they currently sit at 0-6-0. Last year, though, they were a stellar 8-1-3 against CCAC competition. The match begins at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in Notre Dame.

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