The Saint Ignatius soccer program has returned to its perch atop the soccer world. Top Drawer Soccer has ranked the Wildcats as the No. 1 team in its preseason FAB 50 high school boys rankings.
The Wildcats last inherited the top spot in November 2016 following a thrilling third straight OHSAA Division I State Championship, extending the program's unbeaten streak to 59 games.
In the last two years, the Wildcats have reached the State Semifinal, only to fall in heartbreaking fashion in back-to-back years. With plenty of talent returning, the Soccer Cats are determined to avoid that fate, with the goal of winning state and national championships.
The Wildcats will have plenty of chances to earn the title. St. Benedict's Prep (NJ), the No. 2 ranked team in the country, travels to Ohio City to play Saint Ignatius on September 20. No. 5 Peoria Notre Dame (October 4), No. 19 Olentangy Liberty (October 12), No. 32 Columbus St. Charles (September 21), and No. 37 Louisville St. Xavier (September 7) are also on the schedule. In-state foes Medina (No. 7) and Archbishop Moeller (No. 17) made the top 50, too.
The Wildcats' talent was on national display last week. Matthew McLaughlin, Peter Van Euwen, and Kyle Folds all played in the Allstate All-America Cup in Orlando last week. No other boys' school in the country had three representatives. The three rising seniors and team captains will play an essential role for the Wildcats.
Looking at these three only merely scratches the surface of the team's talent and depth. Seniors Danny Kalic, Austin Zeleznik, Nolan Bartolone, Theo Kudlo, Joe Katic, Everett Shorey, Ryan Notarianni, Ryan Roberts, Nick Russo, Ian Sugar, Gavan Richards, and Danny Radigan all return after seeing significant playing time last year. Several rising juniors and sophomores will also bring more to the fold.
In short, this will be a fun season.
While the Wildcats are currently in the mountains of West Virginia on its annual team bonding trip, the team will be back on Wednesday evening. Fans will have two chances to watch the Wildcats this week. The Soccer Cats will host Shaker Heights at 7 pm on Wasmer Field for a preseason tussle. JV A will scrimmage the Red Raiders at 5 pm on Wasmer and JV B will face Shaker Heights on McLaughlin Field at 5 pm on McLaughlin Field.
On Saturday, the Wildcats will be hosting the program's annual Alumni Scrimmage at 5 pm.
A season preview will be posted soon. The Wildcats open the regular season on the road on Friday, August 16 at Avon Lake.