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Magis Athletes of the Week: Zucca, Piesen, McNamara, Zeleznik Do Great Work

By Joe Ginley '12 , 09/17/19, 3:45PM EDT


Zucca won the Forest Hills McDonough Invitational on his "home course."

This past weekend featured success for all four Saint Ignatius teams. All four squads earned wins and accolades, with great performances all across the board.

Perhaps the Football Cats enjoyed the most dramatic win with a 42-41 comeback victory over Archbishop Hoban, but you can't overlook the Cross Country Cats sweeping all races of the Forest Hills McDonough Invite, the Golf Cats winning the St. Edward Invitational, and Soccer Cats notching two big wins.

Here are this week's Magis Athletes of the Week, presented by the Carfagna Family Magis Athletic Center:

Cross Country – Steve Zucca '20

Perhaps no Wildcat knows Forest Hills better than Steve Zucca, and it showed in his times on Saturday.

The senior charged to a first-place time at the Forest Hills McDonough Invitational in the varsity race. 

As Doc Gallagher noted this week, Zucca likes to call Forest Hills his home course. As Zucca said, "I love this race!  The history, the hill, the fans! It's cross country at its best!" 

In the opening 100m, Zucca zoomed to front of the pack. He charged to a marvelous time of 4.55 in the opening mile before facing the hill. Zucca bounced up the hill with grace and stayed ahead of the field. The senior tallied a time of 16:15 for the victory. 

All season, Zucca has been a pack leader for the Wildcats. Look for him to continue dominating the competition this week at the Strongsville Invitational.

Football – Michael McNamara '20

We could have chosen many players here, including quarterback Griffin Hanna, who is up for USA TODAY Star of the Week (Vote Here!) and kicker Declan Mangan, who's up for the Jenny's Old Fashioned Popcorn Player of the Week (Vote Here!).

But while the offense and special teams earned plenty of kudos for the comeback, the defense also deserves recognition for holding Hoban at bay in the second half. And perhaps no defender performed better than linebacker Michael McNamara.

Returning to the action after missing two weeks, McNamara made a gigantic impact for the Wildcats at linebacker. The senior tore through Hoban's offensive line in the second half, helping to stop the Knights' vaunted running game cold. For the game, McNamara tallied 8 tackles, 1 sack, and 4.5 tackles for loss.

The team captain also made the critical play of the game. McNamara halted Hoban's quarterback on its 2-point conversion, which would have given the Knights the lead with 1:45 left to play. If Mike Mac doesn't make that play, the Wildcats might not win.

And if you look deeper at the stats, Friday's 42-41 score is deceiving. The defense did not allow 41 points, but actually 28. Hoban scored a touchdown on a fumble return and a kickoff return TD. After Hoban took a 35-10 lead, the Wildcats allowed only one first down. One. 

McNamara will be a key part of the defense moving forward. 

Golf – Nick Piesen '23

In a group of veteran leaders, Piesen stands as the lone underclassmen in the Magis Athletes of the Week.

While others have drawn more attention this year, Piesen has quietly made a major impact. In his first year as a Wildcat, Piesen has played incredible golf, showcasing a strong short and long game. 

The freshman excelled on Saturday, helping to win the St. Edward Invitational. Piesen penciled in a 73 into his scorecard, tying for best on the squad with Andrew Kaye. A cool and composed player, Piesen is a smart young man with great potential.

Piesen will play a significant role in the upcoming stretch run, starting with a trip to Columbus on Saturday.

Soccer – Austin Zeleznik '20

Injuries can be tough to work through, but look no further than Austin Zeleznik for an example of how to do it with grace.

In his sophomore and junior seasons, Zeleznik did not miss a start, and played almost every minute. To start his senior year, Zeleznik was forced to watch from the sidelines with an injury. Instead of complaining, Zeleznik worked his way through it, gaining strength and becoming fully healthy in time for Wednesday's rivalry match.

Zeleznik wasted little time in making an impact. Facing a fired-up St. Edward team, Zeleznik buried two quick goals to silence the Eagles. The Wildcats won, 5-1, but Zeleznik's second tally stood as the game-winner.

The captain pulled more out of his bag of tricks on Saturday. Playing a more offensive role, Zeleznik found twine twice. The veteran scored two goals in the first half, again providing more offense than the opposition. 

Beyond his output on the scoresheet, Zeleznik is a wily ballhandler who can keep opponents away with his slick foot skills. And off the field, Zeleznik is a quiet leader who his younger teammates look up to. 

Congrats to our Magis Athletes of the Week! Be sure to congratulate them if you see them this week.