The Saint Ignatius Wildcats traveled a whopping seven hours to Peoria, Illinois to face the current No. 1 team in the nation, Peoria Notre Dame.
Since the Wildcats had tied the Gray Bees of New Jersey just a few weeks ago, they had dropped to third, Saint Benedict’s Prep stayed at second, while Peoria Notre Dame moved up to first, since they had still kept a perfect record, refusing to lose or draw a match this season.
The Irish met their match on Friday evening. The Wildcats walked onto the field filled with confidence, but nonetheless remained humble. The Wildcats had started eleven seniors to start the match, making very few substitutions throughout.
The atmosphere was absolutely phenomenal throughout the entire match. The crowd circumvented the entire field, ranging from the student section, to alumni from Peoria Notre Dame, to simply locals who wanted to watch the match. Cheering did not stop at any point, and the student section supported their team until the very end.
The match was treated like a professional one: the referees were equipped with microphones to communicate, the field was newly cut, painted, and touched up for the occasion, and the players were even sent out with little kids beside them.
The whistle finally blew, and the game was underway.
The entire first half was incredible from both teams, both defensively and fundamentally. Not a lot of chances on the attack for either side. Most of the play was a war of attrition in the midfield between both sides.
Both teams came out extremely aggressive, with plenty of collisions, fouls, and a few bookings within the first 20 minutes of the match.
A lot more tough play from both sides when the halftime whistle blew, still a scoreless game. Not too many chances from either side, as both defensive lines did well to keep off impending threats.
The second half began, and fans started to see a growing desire for goals from both sides. Pressure within the midfield seemed to deteriorate at touch, and both sides got more attacking chances as the game continued.
The Wildcats got a solid chance on goal as a foul was committed by a Notre Dame player. The Wildcats lined up for a free kick. The kick was taken by Kyle Folds, and it took an awkward bounce off of the captain goalkeeper Lucas Fontana. Folds tried a cheeky tap in but it was stopped by Fontana. Everett Shorey got a rebound and finished in the goal, with 19 minutes remaining in the half. The Wildcats were now up 1-0 over the best team in the country.
Things began to speed up for the Wildcats, while the Irish began to become tired. The Wildcats kept up the same intensity and began to really outplay the Irish.
Later in the game, sophomore Luciano Pechota slotted in a nice ball to striker Everett Shorey. Shorey got it with a composed mindset, took a couple more touches, and slotted it past the keeper for the second goal of the evening.
Things continued to go in Wildcats’ favor until the final whistle blew. In stunning fashion, the Saint Ignatius Wildcats had beaten the No. 1 team in the country. With this win, they should hopefully be able to regain their place at the top of the tower.
The Wildcats are off next to play another game in Illinois, as they prepare to take on Saint Ignatius Prep of Chicago at 3 p.m. Central time in the second of back-to-back matches.