Sports Information Director
Notre Dame, IND. -- An intense and physical game had become the norm when Holy Cross and Robert Morris meet; this time it was no different. The Saints and Eagles fought for 90 minutes in Wednesday's Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) matchup, with the Saints coming out on top 2-1. The victory ends a current 2-game slide in CCAC action and improves the Saints to 8-4 overall and 3-2 in the CCAC.
"A very big win for our guys," head coach Omar Gallo stated. "I thought we did very well in the first half controlling the game and finishing around the net. They came at us pretty hard in the second half, but we stepped up, especially in goal with Iain, and closed it out for a big home win."
The Saints came out focused and precise in the first half against Robert Morris and really moved the ball effectively. They were able to control the game at their pace and capitalize on their opportunities.
As it has been in each win this season, the Saints were first to score in Wednesday's matchup. A foul right inside the box gave the Saints prime position at a scoring opportunity. Senior captain Garbhan Grant (Letterkenny, Ireland) continued his breakout season success by converting the free-kick to open up the scoring and give the Saints the early advantage.
Simon Soto (South Bend, Ind.) gave the Saints their second big chance in the 31st after he chipped the shot past the keeper, but hit the post. Soto, however, was not finished. In the 38th minute Garbhan Grant fed the ball to Soto who buried the shot past the Robert Morris goalkeeper this time to give the Saints a 2-0 lead in the first half. The goal for Soto was his first of the season.
At the conclusion of the first half, the Saints took held a 2-0 lead on the scoreboard as well as a 9-6 shot advantage.
After 45 minutes where the Saints were the aggressors, the Eagles came out in the second half looking to get back into the game. A foul from the Saints just inside the box gave the Eagles their chance to get one back. Patryk Ruta got Robert Morris onto the board after the free-kick shot deflected off a Saints defender. Ruta was able to control the ball and sneak the shot past goalkeeper Iain McTurk (Copenhagen, Denmark) to make it a 2-1 game.
Following the goal, and momentum on their side, the Eagles began to pressure the Saints offensively and defensively, holding the Saints shot-less for the final 39 minutes.
Iain McTurk did not let the pressure get to him; he faced 15 shots in the half, nine of which were on goal, and stopped eight of them. It was the solid play from the freshman that helped the Saints keep their lead.
The Eagles continued to fight over the final minutes with a couple of late chances, but were unable to score the tying goal. The Saints defeated the Eagles 2-1 and picked up their first CCAC win since their 1-0 victory over Saint Xavier on September 25. They survived the fight of the Eagles in the second half and extended their home win-streak to six games.
"I'm extremely proud of this group," continued Gallo. "You're starting to see the guys come together out there on the field and really doing great things. I told them after the Cardinal Stritch game that we needed to better prepare to give our best effort on the field and they definitely showed that tonight.
"I can't say enough about Iain today. As a former keeper myself, it's hard for me to believe that he's only a freshman. He has really come up big for us. Garbhan, on the other hand, continues to have a great season. He has come into his senior season with one goal in mind: to go all the way. His actions on the pitch are speaking louder than words. Between him and Iain, they are carrying this team on this ride and everyone is on board. Moving forward it seems as if the next match is more important and that is righteously so at the moment. Roosevelt is a great team, but another team we must beat in order to climb the standings."
The Saints (8-4, 3-2 CCAC) will travel to Chicago, Ill. on Saturday to take on the Lakers of Roosevelt University (8-3-1, 3-2 CCAC) at 3:00 p.m. EST.