On Sunday afternoon, the Wildcats took on their Jesuits brothers from Cincinnati, the Saint Xavier Bombers, in the Jesuit Cup finals.
After a long, three and a half-hour drive, the Wildcats were ready to come against one of their biggest competitors yet. St. Xavier plays a very direct (yet effective) game, using their aerial threat up top as a bigger strength to their scoring prowess. With a 4-4-2 and a narrow central focus on the pitch, the Bombers have established these tactics for a long time now.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, play a more wide style of play with a 4-3-3 with a more specialized midfield and a quicker, ground-based front line.
The majority of the first half was an evenly balanced series of events, a lot of battle for possession with a few shots on goal here and there.
As the first half progressed, the Wildcats got closer and closer to knocking one into the back of the net. And with eight minutes remaining the first half, the Wildcats did just that.
Off of a throw-in and a couple deflections, the ball eventually ended up in the feet of defender Isaac Brej. The senior put in a beauty of a cross into the middle of the box for DeVar Anderson. Anderson headed the ball with insane precision and chipped the keeper into the bottom left corner. The Wildcats would then lead 1-0 late into the half.
For the remainder of the first half, it was mostly just a lot of possession, with the game played in the middle third of the park until the whistle blew for the end of the first half.
The second half started with a bang, with a few chances from both sides to try to strike early on the half for a huge momentum swing. Both teams came up short, however, as the closest chance was the strike from Lawrence White III on a breakaway, slotting the ball under Liam Sowell as it rolled just wide right of the goal in an attempt to equalize.
After the first twenty minutes of the second half, the Wildcats struck again to put the Bombers away. Senior center back Noah Zebrak came way out of shape and put in a risky challenge, but it all turned out to be worth it after he put in the tackle. He swept the ball away from their striker and laid it off to senior captain Marko Rimac, who made a wonderful run and had a crack to slot one into the bottom corner under the arm of the keeper Briggs O’Toole with 17 minutes to go in the match.
Just like that, the Wildcats came into the home of the Bombers and put them away to win the Jesuit Cup and further cement their legitimacy.
The regular season is soon coming to an end, and the playoffs are right around the corner. Next up is a match against Strongville on the road on Wednesday evening for the 10-0 Wildcats.