On paper, Everest Academy looks like a program in the midst of a down year. The team only traveled about 18 players to Wasmer Field on Monday and entered with a 1-7 record.
But this was no pushover squad.
Everest Academy – located in Thornhill, Ontario (a suburb of Toronto) in Canada – is a strong program with a number of college commits that plays a national schedule against some of the toughest teams in the country. Everest previously defeated the Wildcats in 2017, 15-10, and in 2018, 12-9.
That made the Wildcats' late push and 10-7 victory a sweet one.
In a quick turnaround from Saturday's 20-9 win over Dublin Jerome, the Wildcats' offense did not pop off the page early, but roared for 4 goals in the fourth quarter to earn the win. At times, Everest's defense and goalkeeping looked unbeatable.
As the sun splashed Wasmer Field on Monday evening, Saint Ignatius and Everest battled in the first quarter, feeling each other out. The Wildcats struck first with 4:21 left in the opening period. Connor Cmiel found Charlie Kinzel hovering just above GLE (goal line extended). Kinzel hopped and fired a near zero-angle goal, opening the scoring. Everest Academy tied the score just 21 seconds later on a transition play. But the Wildcats took a 2-1 lead into the short break, thanks to a Merick Hartley ripper.
Nate Conry fired home a pass from Hartley about two minutes into the second to open an eventful quarter. About 90 seconds later, the scales appeared ready to tip in favor of Everest. Two penalties were called on the Wildcats in the same series of events, including a penalty on starting goalie Charlie Minerd. An Everest attacker sped towards the net, looking for a one-on-one opportunity. Minerd came out of the crease and prevented a goal, but took an illegal check penalty. As a result, Minerd had to sit out for a minute, bringing in Chris Laska.
With two men up, Everest could have changed the game. Instead, the Wildcats forced a turnover, cleared the ball, and burned the penalties with a good possession. Momentum stayed with the Wildcats, as Michael Boehm touched twine with a behind the back goal, the second for the Cats in as many games. Charlie Kinzel provided the assist on the BTB goal, which occurred on the back end of a man-up opportunity.
Everest quickly responded with a goal at 6:23 and then another at 3:55, narrowing the deficit to one at 4-3. The score stood that way until Kenneth Klubnik and Boehm did marvelous work.
Boehm found Klubnik on a wonderful goal with 1:38 left in the first half. Even then, the Wildcats weren't content to run out the clock. A 2-man slide near the West sideline allowed Michael Boehm to come wide open after John Coughlin won a ground ball. Coughlin lofted it to Boehm, who gave the goalie no chance on a gorgeous shot.
At half, the Wildcats commanded a 6-3 lead, with the sun beginning to set over Wasmer Field.
Everest owned the third quarter. The Wildcats outpossessed the visitors, 10-7, and outshot them, 9-5, but the offense went cold. Everest clamped down on the Wildcats and won the ground ball battle, 10-5, to thwart several promising Saint Ignatius chances. The goalie also played outstanding in net, turning away 3 Saint Ignatius shots. The Cats also rang a couple off the pipe, including a rocket by Cmiel with time expiring in the third.
Meanwhile, Everest found the back of the net twice. The Canadians scored at 11:25 and 1:04 of the period, narrowing the deficit to 6-5. The team's stick skills and ability to open up a free player deep allowed the visitors to score twice on low shots.
The start of the fourth also belonged to Everest. The squad ripped two shots to silence the home crowd and stun the hosts. Suddenly, the Wildcats trailed, 7-6, with 7:44 left to play.
In the midst of a long scoring drought, the Wildcats started to rely on their top playmaker – Michael Boehm. The team looked for ways to create space for the junior playmaker and open lanes for him to shoot. The strategy worked at 6:34 of the quarter, as Boehm broke down the door. Cmiel provided the assist on the tying tally, which proved crucial for the Wildcats' confidence.
Less than a minute later, Hartley delivered the game-winning goal. After receiving a crossfield pass, Hartley dodged toward the net and spun back. Hartley uncorked a sidewinder shot, which rocketed into the back of the net. The Wildcats suddenly led, 8-7.
In the final two minutes, Boehm dealt the killing blows. The junior did the job all by himself with the ninth goal. With 1:50 left on the clock, Boehm ran from the near side of the field to the middle and ripped a sidearm shot top cheddar. Boehm left no doubt with his fifth goal of the night with 42 seconds left, with Hartley providing the assist.
"We played great as a team, it was a great team performance," Boehm said. "We moved the ball on offense, we played really well. I was the finisher on some of those, but it was all because of my teammates. It was a good win, we played well. Our offense played well towards the end.
"This is a good bounce-back on a quick turnaround with one day off, and right back at it against a great Everest team. We came back and fought hard, even though we didn't give our best effort in the beginning."
Besides the offense's late push, Charlie Minerd's 7 saves played a significant role in the victory.
"He played pretty well. He was seeing the balls really well. He had a heck of a save tracking it," said goalies coach Jim Smith '94. "He did a nice job clearing the ball, he's seeing the ball really well. He had a helluva game against Jerome, too. He just needs to keep it up. The reason we won this game is because he came up with some really big saves when the defense was a little wonky."
Minerd came up with a clutch save late in the game, helping to preserve a huge victory.
"These guys are all box [lacrosse] players, so they always use one hand. We talked before the game about them throwing a lot of heavy stick fakes," Smith explained. "Charlie was up here, saw the guy drop [his stick] and bring it back up. Charlie came up with his hands it, got it, went right to the ball, and made a nice save.
"Chuck is one of the quiet leaders on the team. He does a really nice job commanding the defense and talking to them. They really respect him, even though he's kind of a quiet kid, he does a really nice job and he's a smart player, too."
The Wildcats don't have much time to rest on their laurels. The Lax Cats return to the field on Tuesday night.
The men of Ohio City will host St. Edward for a 7:30 pm showdown. Before the regular season finale, the Saint Ignatius program will honor its 8 seniors with a special pregame ceremony.
"We just need to play our game," Boehm said. "Play physical, play smart, and play hard, and be the best team we can be. Hopefully we'll come away with a big W."
In the all-time series, dating back to 2007, the Wildcats have a 13-1 advantage. Last season, the Lax Cats defeated the Eagles, 17-3, on a rainy day in Lakewood. Thankfully, Tuesday night's weather forecast does not predict rain, but a slight chill will be in the air.
If you can't make it to the game, the SIBN will have a live video broadcast of the rivalry matchup.