Saint Xavier’s men’s soccer fell in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) quarter-finals to the University of Saint Francis (Ill.) by a score of 1-0.
After winning four games in a row, including two on the road, Coach Vucinic and his team headed into Saturday’s game riding a wave of positive momentum.
The hope was that their run of good play would follow them to the quarter-finals and beyond. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
The lone Saint Francis goal was scored in the dying seconds of the first half. Saint Francis’ Mohamad Rashid scored off a corner kick with Leon Laskowski providing the assist.
That was all Saint Francis would need as their defense and goalkeepers were able to hold the lead.
Despite scoring multiple goals in three of their last four wins, Saint Xavier was unable to put the ball in the back of the net. However, it certainly wasn’t from a lack of effort.
The Cougars fired off five shots in the first half with a couple of headers sailing just wide of the Saint Francis goal.
Despite heading into the half trailing by one, the team played well and seemed like it would only be a matter of time before they could tie the game in the second half.
In the second half, Saint Xavier left all they had out on the pitch. They searched and fought for the equalizer.
They had thirteen shots in the second half, giving them eighteen for the game. The Saint Francis goalies made a total of seven saves with six of them coming in the second half.
The best opportunity Saint Xavier had to tie the game came in the 69th minute when the Cougars were awarded a penalty. Unfortunately, junior midfielder Danny Lopez was unable to convert as his shot was saved.
The Cougars still put Saint Francis under pressure after the missed penalty, but the equalizer never came.
Junior midfielder Ricardo Aldape and Danny Lopez led the team with eight and six shots, respectively. They also led the team with three shots on goal.
It’s certainly not the way Coach Vucinic nor his team wanted to end the season.
They probably feel hard done by the loss as they were, arguably, the better team as they had more shots on goal and forced their goalies in to making more saves.
Alas, that momentary lapse in the final seconds of the first half wound up costing the Cougars.
In Frank Valle’s final game as SXU goalkeeper, he recorded four saves to cap off a very good senior season. In total, Valle finished the season with 85 saves, six shutouts, and a .802 save percentage.
Danny Lopez finished the season as the team’s leading scorer with seven goals on the campaign. Senior forward David Rebollar followed closely behind with six.
Junior midfielder Elias Leyva led the team in assists with four. David Rebollar and sophomore defender Michael Gutierrez were tied for second in that category with two assists each.
All in all, it was an improvement for the men’s soccer team. They finished with ten wins on the season which is double the amount of victories that the team had last season.
Their home record (6-1) was near impeccable as they won six out of seven games at Deaton Field.
In off the field news, Danny Lopez and Frank Valle were awarded CCAC Player of the Year Honors once again.
Valle received his second Defensive Player of the Week honors following back-to-back victories against Roosevelt and Trinity Christian.
Danny Lopez won the Offensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive week. He scored two goals against Roosevelt and one against Trinity Christian. Two of those goals were game winner for Saint Xavier.
Thus, ends another season for the Saint Xavier’s men’s soccer team. They vastly improved compared to the 2016-2017 season.
On behalf of The Xavierite, we would like to extend our congratulations to both men and women’s soccer for the 2017-2018 season.
Good luck to all the seniors and we look forward to next year.