Entering the 2012 season, the Brother Rice soccer team looked to begin on a high note and hopefully carry that momentum for the rest of the fall. Last season saw the Crusaders have their first losing season in the program’s history. Returning players felt very driven to perform at the highest level possible to make their season a memorable one in the Catholic League.
Beginning Tuesday night, August 21, the Crusaders were hungry for an opening season win against highly ranked Lincoln Way East. This team provided quite a challenge to Brother Rice from the get-go as they pressured the defense early on, but the Crusaders were able to hold them off for the half.
Later on, the defense of the Crusaders suffered a dangerous injury when Joe Hayes collided with an opposing player and suffered a knee injury, forcing him out of the game. It was later revealed Hayes suffered a sprained MCL and will probably be out for the rest of the season. The Lincoln Way East Griffins came back when they scored an impressive goal to tie the game, but Brother Rice was able to keep them at bay, ending their season opener in a strong 1-1 tie.
Two nights later, Hersey visited Brother Rice, but with different results. It would end up being a long night for the Crusaders, as they let Hersey score another four goals throughout the next half, ending the game by losing with a score of 6-0. To add insult to injury, senior mid-fielder Gustavo Herrera injured his knee in the first half.
Monday’s game, provided arguably a much more important and difficult challenge: measuring up to defending state champions Morton High School. Brother Rice knew this game wasn’t going to be easy, but they stepped up to the challenge and showed that they have a lot of upside on their roster.
The quick and spontaneous Morton forwards and midfielders immediately put the defense to work, passing to one another and connecting with the greatest of ease. Determination proved to be a trademark of Rice’s defense from minute one. With some close shots and expert goalie work by senior Drew Puchalski, Rice’s teamwork completely shut down Morton offensively, keeping the game scoreless at halftime.
Morton picked themselves up rather quickly in the second half and began to plan out their attack on Rice’s defense. Eventually, Morton’s very skilled players were able to score a momentum shifting goal that Brother Rice wasn’t able to come back from. That followed a penalty kick shot from Morton scored minutes later, and two later goals to end the game with Morton winning 4-0.
Brother Rice has had a rough start to the season, starting out 0-3-1 so far. However, there certainly is a lot of hope and potential for this young team, and they have plenty of time to swing things around. Injuries to key players like Joe Hayes, Gustavo Herrera, and Josh Chavez have impacted the games for sure, but Rice has shown so far that they are a team who still has the ability to be a Catholic League contender this fall.