The Holy Cross Saints women’s soccer team wrapped up another strong season last November with an 11-5-3 overall record.
The Saints opened their fourth season under coach Omar Gallo with a non-conference game win over Bethel University. The Saints have maintained the momentum of their initial victory throughout the season. They have won five games by at least five goals. All but one of the losses have come by a single goal. They finished 8-4-1 in CCAC play. They also set a program record with four all-conference recipients. Gallo attributed the success to the discipline and leadership shown by the girls on and off the field.
“On the field, they stayed disciplined, especially on the defensive end… The girls were top-10 in shutouts,” Gallo said. “They created a mentality of having a high work rate when we don’t have the ball…that style, that mindset and that discipline allowed the girls to set themselves up as well [offensive] recordings.
That defensive prowess showed as the Saints posted 11 shutouts. As the girls continue to excel on the pitch, Gallo says off the pitch is where he is most proud of the team. They continue to impress him with the volunteer work they do in the community and on campus. Gallo praised team captains Lauren Cernak, Olivia Shaw and Kassidi Puthoff for making the collective character and success of the team possible.
These captains definitely strengthened the team bond off the pitch but also played individually on the pitch. Shaw became the program’s all-time leading scorer when she scored in the seventh minute to start an 11-0 win over IUSB. They scored ten goals on the senior day, beating Calumet. Senior Lauren Cernak scored four goals, helping the Saints to a 10-0 win.
“A group more united than ever”
While the Saints took most of their games with the win, the season still saw some tough matchups. The Saints’ last game came in the CASC Quarter-Finals against third-seeded Trinity Christian College. After being beaten 10-3 in the first half, Saints goalkeeper Taylor Primack kept the game 0-0 early in the half. Trinity Christian scored first to take a 1-0 lead, then added another goal in the 67th minute. Shaw and Audrey Filippo responded to tie the game at 2-2. The match ended in a shootout as both teams refused to allow goals in both extra time. Trinity Christian eventually edged out the Saints in the shootout and advanced to the next round.
Asked about his favorite or most memorable game of the season, Gallo spoke about that match: “You might wonder why losing was my favorite moment. We were down 2-0 20 minutes from the end of the season against a team we have never beaten in program history. Until last season the women’s program had never scored so high against them…in 10 minutes we scored two goals to tie the game and almost won it in the final seconds…we saw a level of confidence , a group that came together more than ever and the courage of every player who was on the pitch. That’s when I think the girls realized they could compete with any team in our conference and despite the result, I knew we were going to have a very determined group this spring.
Saints seek to build on 2021
Even the disappointment of a defeat cannot stop the Saints. The team is full of energy and thirsty for redemption. The Saints are now hosting a recruiting class that Gallo says they are excited about. The Saints’ 2021 season has laid a solid foundation for the future as the women continue to build their bond and character as a team while developing their skills and mindset to continue improving on the pitch. They will look to build on that with a strong 2022 season.