WORCESTER, Mass. – With the contest tied at 1-1 with 10:54 left in the second half, junior Josh Cintas (San Diego, Calif.) netted the game-winner as the Holy Cross men's soccer team defeated Rhode Island, 2-1, on Saturday evening at the Linda Johnson Smith Soccer Stadium. With the win, the Crusaders improve to 1-4-0 overall, while the Rams fall to 0-4-2 overall.
"I think the team competed really well and played a strong physical game," said Holy Cross head coach Marco Koolman. "The team fought hard for all 90 minutes and deserved this win. We have been so close in the first four games so hopefully this puts us over the hump."
At the 11:55 mark, the Crusaders had a strong scoring opportunity when Cintas blasted a shot from 20 yards out that was heading to the upper left corner of the net, but URI goalie Thomas Spenser was able to tip the ball over the goal to keep the game scoreless. Then at 15:15, junior captain Monty Sanders (Temecula, Calif.) fired a shot from 18 yards out that hit the lower right post. The Crusaders took a 1-0 lead at 35:30 when freshman Luke Melody (Mansfield, Conn.) scored his first collegiate goal. Cintas set up Melody who then sent a shot from 15 yards out past Spenser. But the Rams answered back at 42:49, when Alan Hernandez sent a crossing pass that was deflected and bounced right to Andy Hess who buried the ball in the back of net to tie the game at 1-1. The Crusaders outshot the Rams by a 9-8 margin for the half, while Holy Cross took four shots on goal and URI had two.
At the 55:00 mark, the Rams almost took the lead when Spenser launched a kick from the URI penalty area to Mike Casey. Casey controlled the ball in the Crusader penalty area but a charging Holy Cross sophomore goalie Michael Thompson (Cromwell, Conn.) was able to prevent Casey from lifting the ball over him as he made the save. Four minutes later, Thompson made another key save on a shot by Hess that was going to the lower right side of the net. At 64:00, the Crusaders had a scoring chance when Cintas and junior Tommy Uttaro (Staten Island, N.Y.) had a nifty give and go as Cintas sent a pass to Uttaro who immediately passed it back to Cintas who then had his shot saved. Spenser then came up big for the Rams at the 74:44 mark when junior Dane Kenny (Williston Park, N.Y.) sent a header off a corner kick to the lower right side of the net but Spenser made a diving save. Then he was able to make a save on the follow up shot by Melody to keep the game tied.
With just under 11 minutes to play in the second half, junior Kevin O'Connell (Basking Ridge, N.J.) set up Cintas who fired a shot to the left side of the net from 12 yards out for his first career game-winning goal. The goal was his team-best third of the season and the fourth of his career. "It was a goal scored through the run of play," said Koolman. "Josh's tenacity paid off. He works so hard to put himself in those positions. He is dangerous around the box."
With 2:55 left to go, Thompson made a save on a shot by Hess. The Rams were unable to take another shot on net as the Crusaders earned the 2-1 victory. Thompson made six saves, while Spenser posted eight. Holy Cross outshot URI by a 19-14 margin, while the Crusaders took 10 shots on goal and the Rams posted seven. Holy Cross took eight corner kicks, while URI had one.
The Crusaders return to action when they play at Boston University at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18.