By Laura Amato
Eric Rossi considers himself a quiet kid.
He’s not loud, he’s not demanding – at least not until he gets on a soccer field. And as soon as that first whistle blows, Rossi becomes something different. He’s boisterous and in control as the backbone of his Holy Cross squad.
It’s a change that was a major reason for the Knights’ on-field turnaround this season and why Rossi is this year’s TimesLedger all-area player of the year.
“I’m very quiet, but when it comes to the games you’ve got to talk to the defense,” Rossi said. “Talk to everyone around you. You’ve got to get loud out there.”
Rossi didn’t begin the season as the starter in net. In fact, he was the team’s backup in the season-opener before getting his first in-game chance during the Knights’ second game of the year, which resulted in a 1-0 victory over Xaverian.
It was a strong performance for the junior keeper, but he was always determined to work harder, play harder and he refused to take his foot off the gas throughout the season.
“I’m always just focused on doing good every game so I can keep the starting spot,” Rossi said. “I played the best I could. That’s how I got the starting spot and I didn’t want to let it go.”
Rossi solidified his starting position with his stellar play over the course of the season, which included nine victories, including four shutouts – one of which was a win over cross-borough Archbishop Molloy. He also led Holy Cross to its first BQCHSAA title in over a decade and refused to back down from the pressure that simply comes from playing between the posts.
“It’s fun. You’re always in the play,” Rossi said of what he enjoys most about being in net. “There’s always something to do, whether it’s talking to the defense, saving shots, penalties. It’s all fun and all something to focus on.”
Rossi surrendered the game-winning goal in overtime of the Knights’ intersectional 1-0 semifinals loss to Regis as the Knights came up short in the state playoffs, but he was still proud of everything Holy Cross accomplished this season.
“It was just chemistry,” Rossi said. “We all bonded together, we all liked each other. It was just like going out there with your brothers, you want to go out there and play as hard as you can and win games.”
It was a year of turnarounds for Holy Cross – climbing its way back to the top of the city standings after years of coming short – and a chance for Rossi to prove that hard work actually does pay off.
Now, Rossi, an all-league selection, is turning his attention to the future and building on the success of this season. He won’t always be the most vocal leader, but he knows once he’s back on the field, he’ll be ready to lead by example again.
“We’re just trying to get back to the same spot next year,” Rossi said. “I want to work with the new kids that are going to be moving up, getting to know them and helping them get ready for varsity. And then we want to win a city championship.”