Rockhurst Soccer comes back strong after 2020-2021 “COVID” season

Pete Turner

On account of the 2020-2021 “COVID” season, the annual matchup between UMKC and Rockhurst University had taken a one-year hiatus. However, on August 21, 2021, the Kansas City “Cross-Street” Rivalry would be renewed.

Two years removed from a bitter 1-0 defeat, these Division II Rockhurst Hawks looked to upset the mighty Division 1 UMKC Kangaroos for the first time since 2016. Technically, this is only an exhibition game, but to the teams, there’s plenty of meaning. It’s a tone-setter for the season; it’s bragging rights over a university that’s a stroll across Troost and Rockhill Road, and it’s a Division I school that has four times as many kids as its Division II neighbor.

This year, Rockhurst ended their four game losing streak to their rival on August 21. A thrilling 1-1 tie was the result thanks to tremendous goalkeeping from Fabio D’Errico and Peter Baker.

Beyond the Roos rivalry game, the Hawks opened the year with a gauntlet of a schedule. The men’s team traveled to Claremore, Oklahoma, where they lost 5-0 to number 12 ranked Rogers State University on September 2, before coming back to Rockhurst only two days later on September 4 to play number 22 ranked Midwestern State University, falling 2-1, and dropping their record at that point to 1-3-1.

Nevertheless, the Hawks were battle hardened, and it was proved later on in the season. Losing three of their first five games sounds disheartening, considering it’s nearly a third of the schedule, but the Hawks caught fire in the dog days of September heat, cruising through three straight shutout victories, and outscoring opponents 8-0 during the winning streak.

Throughout this win streak, you couldn’t look at a box score without seeing Chase Klusman’s name. The GLVC seemed to notice this trend as well, naming Klusman GLVC Player of the Week on September 27.

On October 1, the streaking Hawks faced a strong GLVC opponent in the University of Missouri-St.Louis, and they battled vigorously for 110 minutes before the final whistle ended the double overtime match as a scoreless tie.

A tough stretch throughout October dampened the Hawks postseason hopes, but with two home games remaining on the schedule, there wasn’t an ounce of quit in this team.

First, the Hawks would see William Jewel try and steal one on the home Rockhurst turf. The game was deadlocked a goal apiece, that is until Jacopo Belardo lined up for a direct free kick with only four minutes to play. The freshman was looking for his fourth goal on the year, and a game-winner he might never forget. Belardo lined up his shot and sent a missile straight at the upper left corner of the net for the game-winner and his team-leading fourth goal on the year.

After a very dramatic win on Friday, October 29, the Hawks saw a one-win Truman State squad take the field as the opponent on Sunday, October 31. But there were no late-game heroics needed in this one. The Hawks came out firing to take a 2-0 lead after the first half, before eventually closing this 2021 season out with a victory at home by the score of 3-2.

Freshman Belardo had a great year for Rockhurst, and so did sophomore Tomasso Tirabassi, who finished the year with 5 assists, which ranked him 7th in the GLVC. D’Errico, the senior goalkeeper from Rivalta, Italy, also had a phenomenal season in the goal, finishing top ten in the conference in saves with 47.


The Rockhurst Women’s soccer team looked a bit differently coming into the 2021 season. After losing two of its top-four scorers the year prior, this new Lady Hawks lineup was going to need new contributors.

The beginning of a new season is always hectic, whether it be finding your starting lineup, or even just getting back into the swing of the season. For this Lady Hawks team, not only was the attack going to be a bit different, but the entire timing of the season itself had been flipped around.

The women’s soccer team usually plays their games in the fall sports season, but for 2021, the season had been pushed back to the spring sports season. Therefore, they were forced to play 2 seasons, back to back. There’s a certain rhythm athletes get into over time when their specific sport season comes around. It’s a pattern the body and brain rely on, whether it be off-season workouts, a fall soccer season or simply the body’s clock for getting into seasonal shape. However, the Hawks would go on to play were facing these same circumstances.

A 2-4 start to the season for the Lady Hawks was quite unusual considering the winning season they had just completed in the spring. Yet, no one would have foreseen what was about to happen to this Rockhurst soccer team.

The fifth game of the season came on September 24 against Maryville University in St. Louis, and the Hawks were able to claim victory in overtime, after freshman Gabby Hennessy scored the game-ending goal to win the match 2-1. The Saints of Maryville were perhaps too Saint-like for their own good, as they scored an own goal in the first half that led to the overtime period to begin with.

Next up, the Hawks took on Missouri S&T University in Rolla, Missouri on September 26. The game sat tied 0-0 until midway through the second half when Missouri S&T had a chance to break the stalemate with a penalty kick. But the shot was no good, and the Hawks survived still tied at zero. The Hawks had their own chance to put one on the scoreboard when none other than Hennessy clanked a shot off the crossbar with less than 20 seconds left in regulation. The game went to double overtime and ended in a tie.

In their next game on October 1, the Hawks hosted a University of Missouri-St. Louis team that led 1-0 at the break. However, it was Hennessy once again netting a clutch goal in the second half. The Hawks faced their third consecutive overtime, and once again the result would be a tie.

It was only two days later, on October 3, when it became Lindenwood’s turn for some overtime shenanigans, as the Hawks for their fourth straight game sweated out the sudden death overtime rules. Lindenwood went on to score in the 92nd minute and walked away with the win over Rockhurst.

Overall, Rockhurst played five overtime games this year, finishing in those matches with two wins, two ties and only one loss.

Their second overtime win came in double overtime at home against a top 20 team in the nation. The University of Indianapolis were simply outmatched once the game became a next-goal-wins scenario. This resilient bunch lived in the intense moment of overtime this year, and it paid dividends as they were able to notch a huge 1-0 win on October 17, over a ranked team in front of family and friends.

The Lady Hawks finished 6-10-2 on the year, with a 5-7-2 record against GLVC opponents. Olivia Schwarzen was the team leader in goals (4) scored this season. The freshmen duo of Schwarzen and Hennessy were terrific all year long, and with three years ahead of them, they look poised to make noise in the GLVC for years to come.