(Bridgeview, Ill.) The Holy Cross College men's soccer team opened up their 2012 season with a 1-1 draw against the Bethel College Pilots tonight at Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire.
The match started off fast paced in Bethel's favor from the beginning, as they were able to net a goal within the opening five minutes of the first half. Shortly after, the Pilots were awarded a penalty kick; the shot was saved by freshmen goalkeeper Victor Navarro (South Bend, Ind.), and a loud uproar could be heard from the Saints bench.
As the first half played on, the Saints struggled to get their offensive attack going as they only tallied one shot on goal through the first 45 minutes. Bethel, led by fifth year head coach Thiago Pinto, played a very smooth half netting 12 shots (4 on goal), and completely owning the time of possession. The Pilots ended up taking a 1-0 lead into halftime.
The start of the second half was a complete 180 for the Saints in every facet. After a big pep talk from first year head coach Omar Gallo and assistant Kyle Zaber, they were ready to play on. Their ball movement was much more fluid, and they were able to get the ball in the offensive zone much more frequently, leading to a lot more scoring opportunities.
As the half went on, the Saints offensive effectiveness finally paid off as Simon Soto (South Bend, Ind.) netted the equalizer halfway through the second half. The eruption from the Saints players was electric, and they played with that confidence for the rest of the match.
"I felt that the effort from our team was exceptional the entire game," said head coach Omar Gallo. "We got behind 1-0 in the first half and never gave up. The team fought for what ‘committed' means on our shirts."
In the stands tonight were several Saints soccer alumni which pleased coach Omar. "It was great to see several of the former players come and cheer on the team. We truly appreciated the support."
Entering his first season as the teams head coach, coach Omar has a lot to be proud of after tonight's effort from his players. "Simon's goal was one of the best goals I've seen at Holy Cross in years and hats off to our freshmen goalkeeper Victor Navarro. He kept us in this game saving twelve of the thirteen shots on goal he faced. We still have a lot to work on, but being able to hang with a team that has been nationally ranked in the top 25 over the past ten years says a lot about our program and is definitely a positive way to start the season."
The Saints next match will be their home opener against Great Lakes Christian College on Wednesday, August 29th. The game will be played on the campus of Holy Cross located directly behind the Pfeil Center and is set to kick off at 4:00pm EST.