Men's Soccer Season Blog

Week Nine

Sophomore Joey DeVivo (Ridgefield, Conn.) continues the team's blog.

Following an important conference win over Lafayette on Saturday, the squad returned home to a vacant campus, as the rest of the school returned home for Fall Break. The overtime win boosted the team to 2-2 in the Patriot League, earning us the third spot in the league. Upon returning to campus, the team was able to have a relaxed night before getting back at it with a midday lift with Coach Ollie on Sunday. The remainder of the Sunday was spent watching the football games and having a team barbeque to celebrate the win. A well-deserved day off could not have come sooner for the team that Monday, giving us a chance to recover from a rough week of class and a long weekend of travelling. The day was spent catching up on sleep, and of course, catching up on schoolwork. However, some of the sophomores and freshmen took advantage of the day off in a different fashion, by heading to Boston for the day.

Tuesday, the team regained focus as we began to prepare for the last non-conference game on Wednesday at Harvard. Part of the day's practice was spent watching film to familiarize ourselves with the opponent, as well as working on our own game. We arrived at Harvard rather early on Wednesday, giving us a chance to tour the campus. Even though today was a non-conference game, we were hungry for a win to improve our out of conference record to 4-2-2, and keep the momentum rolling to Saturday's game against Colgate. As the game kicked off, we were well prepared for a physical game, and we came out strong in the first 15 minutes. The remainder of the first half was well fought, while both teams were able to create some good chances. We were expecting much of the same in the second half, however the Crimson came out strong, and took the lead early into the second half. It wasn't long before they doubled the lead, putting us down 2-0. We bounced back strong, creating some great scoring chances, but were unable to capitalize. Before the final whistle was blown, the Crimson were able to find the net once again, making the final score 3-0 to Harvard. While the loss was unfortunate, we knew that we just had to put the game behind us, and begin focusing on an important conference game Saturday, against the Colgate Raiders.

After the tough loss, the team was determined to keep moving forward with two crucial practices before its next game. However, Fall Break wasn't all soccer for the team, as Thursday evening was spent at a mentoring event with some of the Alumni from the Men's Soccer team. The event was a useful one, and the Alumni gave some helpful advice about our futures as well as answered any of the questions that the team may have had. As the week off from school was coming to an end, the team was looking forward to the game Saturday, which would mark the midway point in the Patriot League season. The Colgate Raiders were 4-7-1 going into the game on Saturday, while also being 1-3 in the Patriot League.

Saturday proved to be a great day for the game, as we all got to enjoy one of the last days of warmth of the year. The first couple minutes of the game went the Raiders way, as they found themselves up 2-0 after just eight minutes of play. However, we fought back and created many chances of our own. With not much time left in the first half, Ty Goncalves found himself with some space on the top of the box, and fired a shot off the post giving us our closest chance of the first half. The half ended 2-0, however we knew that we were right in the game. Another goal wouldn't be scored until there was only 15 minutes left in the game, and Peter Ayers fired in a shot from distance, drawing the deficit to only one. Then Colgate was able to get a third goal off of a penalty kick with only seven minutes left. We were able to get another goal with a few minutes left but by then it was too late, and the final score was 3-2 Colgate.

Despite a couple of tough results, we were able to get our rest due to the break from classes. We now have a crucial week before we head down to Navy for a rematch of last year's Patriot League Championship game.

Week Eight

Junior Eddie Gibbons (Bellport, N.Y.) discusses the Boston University and Lafayette games.

After coming off a tough overtime loss at American, we needed to move on and get ready for our next Patriot League matchup versus Boston University. We got back at it with a nice light lift on Sunday before our day off and walk-through for our next match. A mid-week game during the already almost impossible midterm period here at Holy Cross is never ideal but the beautiful game takes all this stress away. Coming off a win versus BU in the prior season gave us hope against the new-comers in the Patriot League for this year. With our winning record at stake, we needed this win to keep the morale up and the record above 500. After film and going over set plays we were ready for the Terriers. After a good showing in the first 35 minutes, we were confident in our attack and a goal seemed well-deserved. Giving up a goal on a free kick from a silly foul late in the half, we were at a disadvantage going into halftime. Still putting pressure on Boston University in the second half, we couldn't find the back of the net and finished the game with a 1-0 loss on our home turf.

With a few days to recover before our next match versus the always rough and tough Lafayette, we studied film and broke down our play against BU.  Since our coaches stress the fact that we should not be conceding set play goals, we continued to work on those and began to assess the play of Lafayette. Playing a totally different style from that of BU, the coaches did a remarkable job in prepping us for the physicality and direct play of Lafayette.

After a little over two hours into the bus ride to Easton, Pa., we stopped at Olive Garden in the hometown of one of our own, Joey DeVivo. After a few pictures of the beautiful state of Connecticut, we rounded up Joey back onto the bus and got on our way to the hotel in Pa. Almost four hours later we finally arrived at the hotel, got our roommate assignments and got a good night's rest for our battle the next day.

A hearty breakfast and another film session on Lafayette's tendencies prepared us even more as we headed for the field. Taking into account the misty, wet weather, cleats were changed and the line-up was given as we made our way out to the pitch. We started the game off strong with much of the possession and a good deal of goal scoring chances. After an early knock off the cross bar from Diego Ceron, we knew our luck would come soon enough. At the end of the first half, the score was still 0-0 but we knew something good was in the works. Arno Rupp started off the goal scoring on a free kick but soon after, Lafayette found the goal themselves. Arno Rupp continued his flawless play as he found the head of Eddie Viscount diving across the box. With small mental lapses late in the second half, Lafayette found the back of the net once again off a corner kick with a little over two minutes to go. Despite going into the overtime period with not much momentum, our fans rallied behind us as we headed into overtime. We controlled most of the first overtime and continued the positive play into the second where Arno Rupp, once again, assisted Joey DeVivo on a pair of headers.

The long bus ride home was filled with music and laughs as we scarfed down pizza and sang some great tunes. With a mid-day lift the next day, the team could rest knowing our hard work has been rewarded with a well-deserved win and a winning record once again. Although our next match is not a league game, it's a must win versus Harvard at their home field. We will resume league play again on Saturday versus Colgate where we look to continue our quest for the Patriot League Championship! Go Saders! 

Week Seven

Junior Diego Ceron (Belleville, N.J.) discusses the team's win over Northeastern and the trip to Washington, D.C. to take on No. 23 American.

After a positive week and a solid day off, the team and coaching staff were ready to gear our attention towards the next opponent, Northeastern. Tuesday's session consisted of film to recognize their tendencies and fine tune our tactical positioning. Northeastern is an opponent that we know very well since we play them regularly each season. My record against them was 0 and 2 heading into Wednesday's match so personally this game was extremely important. 

It was a chilly and rainy evening in Boston on game day. The game was by no means pretty, considering the weather conditions and wet surface, but the team did not use it as an excuse and found a way to fight through it and compete at a high level. In the second half we were able to get on the scoresheet from a goal by Joey DeVivo. After the goal, the team collectively buckled down defensively and we were able to record our second clean sheet of the season. Beat Northeastern was finally taken off the bucket list. 

On Thursday we did our usual post-game re-gen session and got the itineraries for our trip to Washington D.C, which was the site of our next conference game against American. We were up bright and early on Friday morning to catch our bus to Logan Airport. For last year's seniors reading this blog and are wondering if Matt Villano and Joey DeVivo made it on time, they successfully woke up to their alarms the first time. After settling into our hotel, we made our way to the training field in preparation for American. It was a light session, however, it reminded the team that we traveled a long way to take care of business. My favorite part about Friday was team dinner. Not only was the food great, but it was well complimented by the live entertainment performance from our very own freshman class. The upperclassmen and coaching staff had the pleasure of listening to a wide array of musical genres. Whether it was children's classics like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" performed by Eric Dixon or the Austrian national anthem performed by Arno Rupp, the freshmen really showed their diverse musical knowledge. I think most of the audience could agree that the man who stole the show was Yuji Callahan, who brought out his inner Bruno Mars and passionately sang a Japanese song. It was a great team bonding experience and hopefully something that can become a yearly team tradition.

Saturday morning before breakfast, the team went on a scenic walk through a nearby park as we started to mentally prepare for the game. We knew we had a tough task ahead of us being that American was nationally ranked. It was a perfect cool and sunny day to play soccer. Being that it was alumni weekend for American, accompanied by the tremendous effort from our supporters to be present at the game, provided an amazing atmosphere for both teams. After taking an early lead, we began to get hit with several waves of the American attack. They notched an equalizer before halftime and the team really started to feel the pressure. With an under-performance in the first half, Coach Koolman demanded for more leadership from each individual player. The team dug deep and rallied around our captains to display a great second half performance. We showed our character and fighting spirit as we were able to tie the game at two with about 10 minutes left. Soon after, we were able to burry another goal, but it was taken away because of an offsides call. Unfortunately, with about a minute and a half to go in double overtime, American found a way to get the game winning goal. It was almost like deja vu for the upperclassmen because we lost in a similar fashion in our last visit to American. Safe to say it was a heartbreaker. However, a positive take away from the game was the way the team responded to the challenge in the second half. It can be something to build off of going into our next game. With time to kill before our flight back home, we decided to stop by the White House and say hello to President Obama.

Our next game is Wednesday, October 8th at home against Boston University and it is also the SGA Game of the Week. We'd really appreciate the support! My name is Diego Ceron, and I bleed purple.

Week Six

Junior Eddie Viscount (Smithtown, N.Y.) continues the team's blog.

After a relatively pedestrian start to our 2014 campaign, we have critiqued the way we are approaching the game, and really began to pick up speed as we enter a crucial part of our schedule. Most of the guys on the team agreed that after our first few games, we needed to start demanding more out of ourselves as well as each other. We were looking to play with more purpose, and focus more on grabbing wins than simply playing pretty soccer. It all seemed to come together last Saturday night when we traveled down to Fairfield to face Sacred Heart. Although the game grew chippy and several cards were brandished, we found a way to do exactly what we wanted to do and got out of there with a 4-1 victory. The Sacred Heart win was exactly what the program needed at the time. Not only did it give us our second win in a row, but it also served as a statement game that lifted the spirit within the locker room, and gave us something to build off of. Another huge takeaway from the win was that three freshmen managed to get on the score sheet, which shows that we are a well-rounded team with plenty of weapons.
 
While the team was excited about streaking together two wins in such a fashionable manner, we all understood that this was only the beginning of a long process. Instead of becoming comfortable with what we had accomplished, we found ourselves even more motivated to keep our standards high, and to keep the ball rolling. Up next we had Dartmouth at home. This, of course, was a contest that most of us had circled on the calendar all summer. Not only is Dartmouth a quality side year in and year out, but we also had the task of going up against our former assistant coach, Chris Gbandi, who knows our roster and tendencies well. We certainly had our work cut out for us, but we were inspired to protect our home soil and not let any outside distractions deter us from what we were trying to do. The game brought the best out of both teams but never found a winner, as 90 minutes and two overtimes left us at a 2-2 draw. Of course, after every game we always collectively look back to see what we could have done more effectively. We studied film and found areas where we were exposed, and subsequently tended to those areas in training over the next few days.
 
The conclusion of the Dartmouth game brought us to a pivotal point in our season. We had just three days to recover and adjust before opening up Patriot League play. Coach Koolman and the rest of the staff did a tremendous job refocusing us before the conference games, reminding us not to be complacent with the success of our past. The team definitely took this to heart, and we discussed how important it was to leave our past victories in the past. This included both our current three-game unbeaten streak as well as our conference championship appearance during the 2013 season. It was now time to take control of what was in front of us, and that meant getting a win at home vs. Patriot League opponent Loyola (Md.).
 
Saturday brought with it an electric game-day environment, as it was homecoming weekend and the campus was filled with alumni. Many of the graduates from seasons' prior were able to make it to the stadium to provide us with even more motivation to uphold the tradition that they all helped establish. We have won our Patriot League opener in each of the past two seasons, and the guys were poised to make it three in a row. Going into the contest, we knew that the league was going to be even stronger than it has been in years past. That said, we felt it would be even more important to get off to a fast start, and give ourselves a good foundation to build off of during league play. We secured a 2-0 victory, and saw everybody contribute to a defensive gem on our way to the first shutout of the season.

The next morning, the team woke up bright and early to help fight cancer at the UMass Medical Cancer Walk. It was good to hang out with the team as well as several other student-athletes from Holy Cross to combat a disease that affects so many of us. After completing the walk, we returned to campus to regenerate our bodies with a conditioning session with strength coach Jeff Oliver. After putting a strong week in the books, we all took advantage of an off day on Monday. We were finally able to decompress and catch up on some homework, as we regained focus for another huge week. With the team moral as high as it's been all season, we are looking forward to taking on annual rival Northeastern on Wednesday. We hope to continue our four-match unbeaten streak, which is the best consecutive streak posted since the 2008 squad.

Week Five

Junior captain Luke Melody (Mansfield, Conn.) discusses the team's week as the Crusaders went 1-1.

Following our disappointing 2-0 loss to Providence, we had more than a week to train in preparation for our next match against Monmouth. Because of the extended period of time between games, coach was able to work us harder than usual earlier in the week knowing we would be able to recover in time for the Saturday competition. The coaching staff emphasized the importance of competing in and winning two-vs.-two battles, and we spent all of Monday's practice focusing on these situations. Tuesday's training session was demanding as well as we worked on midfield play and building possession out of the back. The guys have all been highly motivated in practice so far and our time on the field has been spirited and competitive. This team attitude bodes well for our improvement as the season progresses.

Near the end of the week, coach began directing our collective effort towards our next opponent.  Following our tough start to the week, the team and I did all we could to maintain our same energy in practice that we had brought to the beginning of the week.  For some guys, this meant ice-baths were in order at the end of each practice, ensuring that their legs were ready for the next day's work. In addition, the academic workload had begun to increase as classes settled in to the normal routine of the semester. The coaching staff prepared film of Monmouth, our Saturday opponent, for us to watch as a group prior to practice on Thursday. Film often provides vital information for us regarding the opponent's trends while also indicating certain opposing player tendencies. 

Although our game was scheduled for Saturday at 7:00 p.m., we departed campus mid-afternoon on Friday so that we would be able to get more acclimated and settled prior to our game the following day. While we knew the trip would be over a four-hour drive, we were all excited for our first extended away trip of the season. Upon walking on the bus, we were greeted by our bus driver, Rick, who declared that "the freshmen have to clean my bus" at the end of the trip. The upperclassmen responded with a cheer of approval. The conditions for the game were far from ideal with the turf field nearly flooded and pools of water accumulating in areas due to the rain that had been coming down all day. Although the score was 0-0 at halftime, we hadn't come out and performed as efficiently and intensely as we would have liked. Going into the second half, we were confident that we would play better and find a rhythm in the flow of the game. Overall, our second half performance ultimately was much better than the first half, and we controlled more possession than Monmouth and created a couple of decent scoring chances. However, we conceded two set piece goals and lost 2-0.

This past Wednesday night, the team had a great opportunity against Quinnipiac to bounce back from our previous two losses and earn the first win of the season. Our opponents had previously beaten Providence, a team we had lost to, and tied Army, a squad who had been very difficult to play last season.  We knew this game against Quinnipiac would be far from easy. It was uplifting to be back on our home grass field, and this showed in our comfort level within the first half. We controlled the tempo of the game, and settled in to our style of play very early in the game. Justin Carfora opened up the scoring in the first half when he stripped the ball from their center-midfielder just outside the penalty box and beat the keeper with a class finish. Given that it was also his birthday, we were all excited for him on his first collegiate goal. The score was still 1-0 when we took the field for the second half.  Joey Devivo doubled our lead with an instinctive shot from the top of the box twenty-five minutes into the second half. Our team defense remained resilient and organized until we allowed a late consolation goal off of a free kick. Overall, the team was pleased with the 2-1 result and this will give us confidence as we move in to next week's contests.

Week Four

Senior captain Michael Thompson (Cromwell, Conn.) discusses the team's second game of the season.

Following our game versus Hartford, all of our focus was turned towards Providence for our next non-conference match. Coming into the contest the team was full of confidence from our solid performance against a talented Hartford squad. We had a full week of practice to prepare and get in the mind set to achieve a good result against the Friars.

Wednesday marked the beginning of the school year and it was nice to see old faces and re-connect with past professors. After a long day of classes concluded, we were back at it up on the field for a tough day of practice. Leading up to the Friday night clash versus Providence, it was important that each player on the team knew the role that they needed to perform to get the job done. Coach did a great job of laying out the game plan and giving us an opportunity, through practice, to put the plan into action. Thursday was much the same, however today we watch some film and had a light practice working on different set plays and defensive shapes that we were hoping to execute on in Friday's game.

Game day had come and you could see in all of the boys' faces that they were focused and ready to get a win versus Providence. As we arrived to the Providence campus, we were greeted and directed towards our locker room where we could then get changed for warm-ups. Going through the warm-up, the boys looked sharp and we were confident going into the game. Unfortunately we came out on the wrong side of a 2-0 defeat, but there were positives that we took from the game to improve upon moving forward.

On Saturday we had a re-gen session for those who played the majority of the game, and for the rest of the boys it was a day to maintain our fitness and stay sharp on the ball. Re-gen sessions are always a great time because we have competitive short-sided matches in which no one wants to lose… typically emotions run high on these days. Following the re-gen on Saturday, we had an off day on Sunday, which was nice so the players could rest their legs in preparation for our contest versus Monmouth on Saturday.

Week Three

Junior captain Kevin Wright (McKinney, Texas) discusses the team's first game of the season.

Now that preseason has officially ended, this week was essential in preparing for the regular season. We accomplished a lot, as we focused the team in order to reach for the same goals. The Freshman Orientation program allowed the young guys to have new experiences and gain a better understanding of the Holy Cross Mission. While the guys were excited for people to get on campus, we also needed to stay focused on Hartford. This week was one of excitement for all of us as there was a lot of commotion around campus and realizing that the season is finally here.

Tuesday found us feeling limber as we had yoga in the early morning. Yoga was an instrumental part for us this preseason, as there were very few injuries. I thought the yoga sessions were great because it allowed us to be one with our bodies, taking the time to relax and just be in the moment. Once we finished up making a sauna out of the rec gym, we took a break and went right back to work in the weight room. For us older guys, we went off on our own and did a quick workout to maintain our strength. The freshmen stayed with our strength and conditioning coach and learned the correct lifting techniques. Following the lift, coach graced us with the news of an off day on Wednesday.

While most of the guys stayed on campus and took the time to rest, cabin fever took over the junior class so we decided to hit the links. The Par 3 course found me frustrated as grandpa Luke somehow won by putting the ball down the fairway only to win by one stroke. The other three were not in contention of the top spot.

The next morning was long as we hashed out what our team goals would be and what we need to do in order to reach our goals. It was great to see everyone involved in deciding where we want to end up. Our vocabulary was tested as we struggled to arrive on common ground when speaking about our goals. Once our meeting was adjourned, we headed to a light practice, going over set pieces and a little bit of finishing.

Friday was game day. We woke up early and had a team breakfast followed by film in the locker room. Once film was finished, we went out to the field to go through our shape as a team and walk through specifics on how we needed to play. We went our separate ways trying to get our mind off of the game for a little bit. We met back together for a team lunch, and finally headed up to the Hart Center to get dressed and warmed up.

The game kicked off at 7:05 p.m. with everyone jazzed up to play. We went into half tied 0-0. The defense was very organized and we had our fair share of scoring opportunities. Our back line was very strong as our preseason work was paying off. The midfield was playing well and moving the ball around, getting the forwards involved. The second half came with excitement, as Arno Rupp was able to put us on the board with a great finish. Unfortunately, we let a goal by later in the game that tied the score at one. Our toughness was tested as we fought to the last whistle to finish with a 1-1 draw.

Saturday is always one of my favorite days because it is a regeneration day for the players that played a lot of minutes. For the goalies and the rest of the players, it is a time to compete and work hard so that everyone is staying sharp and fit. The emotions ran high and the intensity was raised, as no one wanted to lose. This day was also a day for the freshmen to go off and meet the rest of the incoming class and get their feet wet.

Sunday was a tough practice as we are preparing for our next game on Friday at Providence College. The freshmen were absent from practice because of orientation meetings. Monday was an off day for the team, which was filled with relaxing and the outdoor Edge Dance Party at the Kimball Quad. I do have to add that the dance skills on the team are very strong.

We are looking forward to school starting on Wednesday and our next opponent on Friday.

Week Two

Senior captain Will Bowers (Raleigh, N.C.) discusses the team's preparation for the season-opener on Aug. 29 versus Hartford at the Linda Johnson Smith Soccer Stadium at 7:05 p.m.

We had another solid week of training in my fourth and final preseason here at Holy Cross. This has been the best preseason thus far and it's been exciting to see the team improve and come together as a unit. Thursday marked the last day of double sessions, which brought about a sense of excitement amongst the team because the regular season seemed just around the corner. First, there was work to do. We fixed mistakes on both sides of the ball that were made in our first preseason game against Boston College, built upon a multitude of positives we took from the game, and started to prepare for our second preseason game against Southern Connecticut on Saturday.

The game went smoothly as we came out with a 2-0 win. Our goals came from sophomore Joey DeVivo and freshman Brad Ross and were both an indicative sign of our progress and improvement as a team. This was the first concrete sign of our hard work paying off.  Needless to say, the morale amongst the squad was high and the attitudes were positive. However, with only one short week before our first game, we realized it was time to buckle down and grind out the work we needed to get done.

We had a much needed yoga session on Sunday morning. We've had a tough preseason and yoga has been a crucial part in maintaining our fresh legs and keeping are bodies loose and flexible. Rare for preseason, we haven't had a single muscle injury and I owe a lot of that to the yoga sessions. With the rest of the afternoon off, we went to play a competitive round of mini-golf as a team. The seniors, of course, reigned victorious with the lowest average score. Like the ropes course we did last week, the mini-golf was an awesome team-building event that allowed for the boys to bond and gel together off of the pitch. Ultimately, a strong team off the pitch will need to be a strong team on the pitch.

 

We had our third and final preseason game on Monday night against UMass-Lowell. Unfortunately, we came away with a 1-1 draw. We went down 1-0 in the second half, but the team impressively responded to the adversity and managed to draw even in the closing minutes. This resolve is something that is going to be crucial in the regular season, specifically in Patriot League play. Although the team was disappointed with our play, we took a lot of positives out of the match to build upon and a few negatives that we will use to improve as we move forward.

As preseason is coming to a close, we're looking to absorb every bit of information possible in order to be in our best form as the regular season begins. We're going to spend the rest of the week preparing for our first game against Hartford at home at 7:05 on Friday night. We should have a productive week working out the kinks in our system and developing the routine and rhythm that will carry us through the season. You can follow our updates, progress and information on Twitter @Crusader_Soccer and Instagram @holycrossmenssoccer. We would love to see you at our games!

Week One

Assistant men's soccer coach Justin Kahle kicks off the team's season blog.

Welcome to the Crusader Men's Soccer Blog. This will be an opportunity for our players to discuss the week's past events and what their experiences have been like thus far. Each player will give different insight into the season and the growth the team has shown along the way. 

My experience is a new one. This is my first season at Holy Cross, my first chance to develop lasting relationships with the players, my first chance to make an impression and help this group move forward, my first chance to enjoy what Holy Cross and this team has to offer. We are a week into our preseason and on the verge of competing in our first preseason game. The commitment from the players has been excellent and it is easy to see that there are slowly forging a bond that is necessary to compete in the college game and the Patriot League in particular. It has been fun to watch and be a part of. As we move forward over the next week we have some solid preseason tests that will give us a good indication of where we are as a group and what strides we need to make in order to reach our team goals.

We enjoyed a team-building event a few days ago that allowed the team to become more comfortable and open with each other. Having an event like this before our first game is crucial in continuing to fortify the bond between the group.  It was a great experience for the group with benefits that should impact the team throughout the season. 

We also enjoyed our first preseason game yesterday afternoon at home versus Boston College. The first preseason game is always an interesting one. Legs are heavy, tensions are high and it is the first opportunity for the players to get any nerves they might have out of their systems. The result didn't go our way, as we were on the wrong end of a 2-1 result, but there were an incredible amount of positives to take out of the day and a lot that we can use as we move forward during this preseason.

I'm happy with the way this preseason has started and I am looking forward to the coming weeks. This blog will be a way for everyone to stay connected with us! Our alumni base, family and friends have laid the foundation for the current group and we want you to enjoy each moment with us. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @Crusader_Soccer for updates and information about the team's travel and on Instagram @holycrossmenssoccer. We hope to see you at our games and please reach out to us if you attend. We would love to meet you!