On Monday night, the Wildcats faced one of their biggest challenges yet – the Avon Lake Shoremen.
A team that gave the Wildcats one of their toughest battles last year returned with a vengeance in their sights, looking to give the Soccer Cats their first defeat since November 2018.
With the Wildcats coming off of a wonderful 6-0 victory over the Copley Indians on Thursday, the Wildcats had some momentum going into the most important week of the regular season.
Avon Lake on Monday, St. Edward on Wednesday, and Toledo St. John’s Jesuit on Friday. Three tough games in just 5 days for the Cats, and this was a true showing of just how good they need to be.
Not to mention, Monday night was Senior Night for the Cats, just adding on another layer of expectation for the team.
The majority of the first half of the match was just a battle in the midfield and a lot of exchange in possession with a couple good chances from both sides every once in a while.
With about eight minutes remaining in the first half, the Shoremen struck first with an astonishing goal. With the Wildcats pressing farther down the pitch, the Shoremen got the ball and went on a counter-attack, looking to take advantage of the lack of defensive presence.
After a wonderful over the top through ball to Liam Ruetter, Reutter took a few more touches open on goal, and hit an absolutely gorgeous strike from the edge of the 18-yard box into the top left corner of the net, with no chance for the keeper Liam Sowell to make the save.
This was the first goal the Wildcats had conceded all season, and the first they had given up since October of 2019.
The Shoremen held off the Wildcats for the rest of the half, bringing their one goal lead into halftime with them.
Avon Lake Shoremen 1, Saint Ignatius Wildcats 0.
At halftime, Head Coach Mike McLaughlin ‘85 fired up his team; and with the addition of some much-needed tactical changes, the Wildcats were ready to begin the second half of play.
The Wildcats began the half firing from all cylinders, with two or three chances in the first 5-6 minutes. Goalkeeper Zach Glesius notched some incredible saves, making saves that quite frankly no human being has the right to be making.
Glesius couldn’t keep the ball out of the net for too long, though. About 13 minutes into the second half, the Wildcats struck back.
Luciano Pechota slotted in a nice through ball to senior captain Marko Rimac, who had a shot met with a wonderful save. The ball was redirected back into the air and headed into the back of the net by Nolan Spicer. The Wildcats had finally equalized, but they surely weren’t done yet.
Not too long after, the Wildcats struck the back of the net again. A ball played over the top to Nathan Smith led to a beautiful cross in from the lad to sophomore Nathan Trickett, who flicked it nicely into the right side of the net. 2-1 Wildcats on top.
A couple minutes later, Liam Sowell made an astonishing save off of quite the strike on a free kick for the Shoremen. The Cats quickly brought it up the field, as Nolan Spicer put in a nice through ball to senior captain Marko Rimac for yet another goal. The Wildcats led 3-1, with all three goals coming within seven minutes of each other.
The Cats held up for a majority of the rest of the second half, unfortunately letting in a through ball to senior Zach Ramsey, who took a touch past the keeper Sowell and slotted it into the bottom left corner with four minutes to play.
Unfortunately for the Shoremen, this wasn’t enough to get them back in the game. The Wildcats stood their ground and the final whistle blew with a score of 3-2.
Coach McLaughlin after the game stated how he was glad the Wildcats had gone down, as it let him see how they would perform under such pressure, and he was proud of the team for earning back their ground and leaving Senior Night with a well-deserved victory.
The Wildcats will face the St. Edward Eagles tonight at 8 p.m.