(Editor’s note: Carroll College athletics release)
HELENA — Kirsten Girolami made the most of Senior Day.
The midfielder is graduating this spring and took part in Senior Day activities prior to the game. As her team battled a pesky SOU squad into the second period of overtime, she made her presence felt.
Girolami took a cross from freshman Katie Martin in overtime and one-timed the ball in the 108th minute to give the Saints a 1-0 win over SOU and a share of the Cascade Collegiate Conference championship.
A tiebreaker means Eastern Oregon — who the Saints tied 3-3 earlier this season — will receive the auto-bid to the NAIA National Tournament. Still, the Saints will add some hardware to their trophy case.
“Senior Days are always kind of nerve wracking,” Saints coach Dave Thorvilson said. “First half you could see that and then in the second half things settled down.”
Once the nerves settled in, the Saints played a quality soccer match.
“We kind of talked about at half time,” Thorvilson said. “It was getting over it. It was playing with our hearts. Win the 50-50 balls and focus on the little things. Good passing. Good communication.”
It’s the third conference title — outright or shared — the Saints have won under Thorvilson. After starting the season off 0-4, the Saints turned things around.
The Saints will be the No. 2 seed in the CCC tournament, which will be held Nov. 7-10 in Springfield, Oregon.
Senior Day didn’t quite go as the Carroll College men’s soccer team wanted, but it did come with a silver lining — the Saints live to play another match.
Prior to the kickoff against No. 14 Southern Oregon (14-2-2, 11-0-2), the Saints (7-7-1, 6-6-1) sealed a berth to the Cascade Collegiate Conference tournament. It didn’t make a 3-1 loss on Sunday at Nelson Stadium any easier, but it was a firm reminder that the Saints have to be sharper in the playoffs.
“We live to play another day,” Saints coach Doug Mello said. “We had such a wonderful half and it was very tight which we want in the last match. They kind of persevered and made a couple good runs that we just didn’t step off on. When you play a team like that, they make you pay for the little mistakes. I like the guy’s effort. I think they most certainly realized that if we make some of these mistakes in a playoff match you go home.”
The Saints and Raiders battled to a 0-0 draw in the first half, and then Carroll took an early lead in the second.
Senior Terry Cox gave the Saints a goal when after he scored on a rebound in the 50th minute.
The Saints held that lead until SOU came storming back.
Southern Oregon received a goal from Carlos Magana in the 63rd minute to tie the game. About 12 minutes later, Yan Pessoa de Oliveira put the Raiders ahead.
The Raiders added to it in the 83rd minute when Junior Rivas put another shot in the net.
“If we can pull anything out of this it’s a 90-minute match,” Mello said. “It’s not 80 minute with 10 minutes of struggle. We just didn’t play to our level for a little bit and they took advantage of it.”
The Saints solidified the No. 7 spot in the CCC , owning a tiebreaker over eighth place OIT. The Saints will face No. 2 Corban in the quarterfinals of the CCC tournament, which will be held Nov. 7-10 in Springfield, Oregon. The Saints fell to Corban 4-0 earlier this season.
Carroll honored their eight seniors prior to the game. Seniors Jose Porras, Alessio Georgiades, Jonathan Taylor, Sam Malouf, Terry Cox, Riley Prescott, Kyle Thomson and Chris Brayton were recognized on the field.