By Henry Barsch ‘20

In one of the most turbulent seasons in recent memory, Brother Rice soccer seems to be finally finding its footing.

Over the past 3 years, Rice has seen some of the worst soccer in school history. In 2016, the team managed a measly one win. With the program seemingly hitting rock bottom with little improvement in 2017, the program really had trouble finding its way back into winning ways. But in 2018, the team managed to find some success, going 7-8-4 during the season.

This year, the Crusaders have really pushed to move up to the next level. Currently, the Crusaders sit at 10-7-3, the best record in recent memory. After an unstable start to the season, Rice really found their groove after beating Marmion 1-0, their first conference win in three years. The Crusaders went on to tie Fenwick and drop games to St. Laurence and St. Ignatius as the season progressed, but those results never hindered the Crusaders’ spirit.

On Thursday, Oct. 3, the Loyola Ramblers, defending Catholic League Blue champions, made the long trip to Brother Rice to play the Crusaders in a long awaited conference matchup.

The game began slowly, with no one scoring for the first thirty minutes. The Crusaders opened the scoring in the 34th minute, with a goal from Jack Finnegan off a long Matt Rodgers free kick. The score of the game was now 1-0, in favor of the Crusaders.

In the 45th minute, Loyola strung together multiple passes to put away a lofty goal.

As the game wound down, Jack Finnegan struck again in the 70th minute. He slotted away a free kick from about 30 yards while Loyola’s goalkeeper was not paying attention. But Loyola was not finished yet, putting away their second of the match with less than 3 minutes to go. Being a conference matchup, the game went into overtime.

The overtime period was uneventful at best, only being 10 minutes long. The game moved onto penalty kicks, 5 for each team.

Goalkeeper Oscar Cerritos made a huge penalty kick save on Loyola’s second kick, which lead the Crusaders to a 5-3 victory in penalties.

Senior striker Connor Leibforth said, “I was ecstatic. I had faith in the rest of my teammates, and I knew we would come out of the game with a victory,” when asked about Cerritos’s save.

The Crusaders are now 10-7-3 on the season and 2-3-1 in Catholic League Blue play, essentially knocking Loyola out of contention to defend their title. They resume their season playing Lincoln Park on Saturday.