On Wednesday evening, the Saint Ignatius Wildcats played one of their toughest opponents yet in the Round of 16, the Solon Comets. With a stellar 14-1-2 record, the Comets went into this match losing just two matches all season. With 10 shutouts on the season, and a team full of anxious and vengeful seniors, the Wildcats had their work cut out for them, as an enthusiastic Wasmer Field crowd and perfect weather set the scene for an exciting evening.
The majority of the first half was a struggle in the center of the park, with many exchanges in possession and minimal chances on goal, with the exception of a chance from Nolan Spicer early in the match. Solon maintained a good amount of pressure as well, pushing the ball forward consistently.
Things started to get sloppy before the lone first-half goal that put the Wildcats on top. After a nice through-ball slotted into Josip Rimac, he planted it with confidence into the right-hand side of the goal. The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead going into the half.
That lead would not last long, however, as the Comets responded just a few minutes into the second half.
After the Wildcats conceded a corner, the ball was played to the far post for the left back Ryan Funderberg, who headed the ball with rather impressive precision from the back post past the keeper and into the back of the net. Solon had equalized with 37 minutes remaining in the match.
It appeared to be a huge momentum swing, favoring the Comets, as Solon continued putting pressure on the back line and sent the Wildcats into somewhat of a state of panic. That was temporary, however, as the Wildcats began knocking on the door, with some decent saves from the keeper here and there.
Within the first 20 minutes of the second half, the Wildcats still hadn’t found a way to respond. That all changed with a goal from the Sophomore Sensation, Nolan Spicer. The Wildcats put together a good counter attack as Marko Rimac played a ball through on the left side of the 18-yard box to Luciano Pechota. Pechota took a few touches and squared it across the frame of goal for Nolan Spicer, who had an easy tap-in to give the Wildcats their lead back.
Six minutes later, after a shot from Marko Rimac was saved by the Solon keeper, Spicer got the ball from a struggling defender. He took a quick turn and hit another one past the keeper to give the Wildcats an abrupt 3-1 lead.
Two minutes later, the Wildcats struck for the final time, with a stunning through-ball played to Antonio Morini, who flicked it past the goalkeeper to give the Wildcats a 4-1 lead with 12 minutes to go.
After this sudden period of non-stop attacking chances, the Wildcats mainly held possession to avoid any more goals scored. The strategy held, giving Saint Ignatius a dramatic 4-1 win, and a good amount of momentum moving into the last three stages of the state tournament.
The Wildcats will play Massillon Jackson on Saturday at 3 p.m., at Massillon. The Polar Bears are fresh off of a victory against Hudson and ready for vengeance, as the Wildcats gave them their first loss of the season in the Saint Ignatius season opener, courtesy of two goals scored by Nolan Spicer.
It should be a great match. Yours truly will be on the SIBN to cover it. Stay tuned! Go Cats!