On Saturday, October 31, the Wildcats were back on the pitch against the North Olmsted Eagles, a talented underdog team from the South side, with plenty of solid stars all throughout the team. With a huge momentum swing after a golden goal victory against Lakewood, the Eagles were prepared and ready, but so were the Wildcats, coming off of a huge 9-1 victory over the Demons from Westlake.
With both teams coming in for the District Championship, the tension between both teams and pressure put on them was extraordinary--not to mention the history these two teams have had with one another in the past. North Olmsted is known to formerly be a well-known capital of high school soccer throughout the United States. With help of the talent produced at the time, as well as coaches such as Tom Hatfield bringing about progressive changes for schools, it was rising in popularity, and has managed to shatter the hearts of the Wildcats on multiple occasions. This was evident through coaches’ speeches before the game.
With a loud stadium, as well as emotional fans from both sides all over the place, it was a great environment for the match.
The match started with the Wildcats dominating possession, a few chances, but not too much to show for on the offensive end. Things slowly began to pick up, and the Wildcats scored just 12 minutes in.
Off of a rash foul and a booking for the Eagles, the Wildcats would get a free kick on the left hand side a few yards outside of the 18-yard box. Senior Captain Marko Rimac would play in a very nice ball into the box, as it would connect with the head of his fellow Senior Center Back Noah Zebrak, who would precisely place it past the keeper for the first goal of the match.
The Wildcats would continue their domination of possession, while their defense shined through as well. Ten minutes after the first goal, the Wildcats would get yet another free kick, this time in the center of the park, just a couple yards outside of the box. Senior Rimac would step up again to take the kick. He placed great feats of skill and power on the ball as he laced it up and bent it up and over the wall into the right side of the goal. Just 22 minutes in, the Wildcats had a 2-0 lead.
The first half of the second half didn’t provide too many fireworks; a few solid shots from the Wildcats, but all saved seemingly so easily by the Eagles Goalkeeper Gannon Graf, surely the Man of the Match for the opposing side.
With about 20 minutes to go in the match, however, the Wildcats would score one of the most immaculate goals I’ve ever observed in my time covering the Wildcats on the pitch. A throw-in made its way to Junior Luciano Pechota, who would go on to make a tremendous run and knock in a goal for the Wildcats, taking the pride of about seven Eagles players in the process. An astonishing run, capitalized with a finish. 3-0 Wildcats, with 20 minutes left to spare.
The rest of the match was fairly uneventful, with some chances from the Cats, as well as some close calls in front of the goal for the Eagles. Ryan Sanborn and Mohamed Mohamed would come close to finishing, but unfortunately couldn’t make much of their chances.
When the final whistle blew, the Wildcats had won the game 3-0. They move on to Regionals, where they will play Solon at 7 p.m. at Wasmer Field on Wednesday, November 4. Buy a ticket today, or tune into the SIBN to watch the match, with some analysis in the pre-game show, too!