Spring officially arrives in Northeast Ohio on Wednesday, but the season has already begun for the Saint Ignatius lacrosse program.
The Wildcats' JV and Varsity Blue teams began the season in earnest on Wasmer Field on Monday evening, while the varsity squad kicks off the year on Tuesday afternoon in Hunting Valley.
The JV Cats tallied a narrow 4-3 win and the Varsity Blue Cats notched a 14-4 decision to make it a sweep for Saint Ignatius over two tough Brecksville-Broadview Heights teams.
In the first contest of the spring on Wasmer Field, the JV Cats took care of business. In the first game of the doubleheader, the Wildcats, guided JV Head Coach Max Rennillo '12 and assistants Al Katibak '85 and Steven Weppner, eked out a defensive win. As the sun set over the field, the cold began to creep into Ohio City.
The backend of the doubleheader between the Varsity Blue Wildcats and the Bees proved to be just as enthralling.
The visitors snuck out to a 3-1 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Bees extended the advantage to 4-2 by the midpoint of the second stanza before the Wildcats clawed back into it. The men of Bo Shim '92 scored three unanswered goals to close out the first half, entering the break with a precipitous 5-4 lead.
In the second half, the Wildcats' defense took over the game. Rustom Khouri '12 and Jacob Greis, the Wildcats defensive coaches, made adjustments to shut down the Bees. Thanks to a great scheme, the hosts locked down the Bees, which opened space for the Wildcats' offense to go to work. The Cats galloped to a huge 9-0 run, eventually winning the game by a wide 14-4 margin.
As Shim testified after the game, the win is a big confidence booster for a young and banged up Wildcats team.
"The boys played as a team vs. relying on a single player," Shim said. "Of the 14 goals, 11 were assisted. We caused 8 turnovers on the clears out of 17. These boys were fielding a team of less than 20 players, young, but had unshakeable confidence in each other."
Indeed, the Wildcats have a number of players out with injuries, including three defensive long poles and the team's faceoff specialist (FOGO). And with nine freshmen on the roster, the adversity will steel the Wildcats quickly.
The Varsity Blue Cats will be tested again this weekend, this time on the road. Coach Shim's troops will travel north to play Brother Rice's Varsity Orange squad at noon in Bloomfield Hills. The showdown will be an early indicator for a young Wildcats team.
Likewise, the JV Cats will face off with Brother Rice's JV team on Saturday in Bloomfield Hills. That game is also slated for a noon start.
In the meantime, the Varsity Lax Cats open up the 2019 campaign on the road on Tuesday. The Wildcats will play University School in a 5 pm showdown in Hunting Valley. Follow us on Twitter @SIHSSports for updates from US.