On Saturday, the Wildcats continued their playoff run with a match against the Massillon Jackson Polar Bears, a solid team coming fresh off of a 2-1 victory over Hudson courtesy of their star player Garrett Hattery. The Wildcats were coming off a 4-1 win over the Solon Comets, as well. With both teams having increasing momentum, and Massillon looking for revenge, this game was bound to have some structure, with a close scoreline.
When things started off, the Wildcats looked good with stellar, dominating possession, and bringing many mistakes out of Massillon’s back line. The Wildcats dominated possession and got a few chances through on goal.
The Wildcats struck first within the first 10 minutes. Senior captain Marko Rimac took a free kick and placed it precisely past the wall and into the corner of the net, right out of the reach of the goalkeeper. Just a few minutes later, the Wildcats scored again, with yet another free kick from Rimac: another well placed finish, off the post and into the corner of the net.
After a few more quiet minutes, the Cats struck again, as Nolan Spicer tapped it past the keeper for yet another goal. This really set the tone, as it was a knife through the heart of the fans and the players. A lot of the emotion throughout the stadium was seemingly drained away. The Polar Bears did manage to get a goal back, as Andrew Grant hit a nice shot into the top corner of the net after some miscommunications between the Wildcat center backs. At 3-1, the Wildcats still had the lead.
What momentum the Polar Bears created was unfortunately shut down after Rimac was fouled within the penalty area. He struck the ball with tremendous power and got his hat trick from 12-yards out in just one half of action. A brilliant top corner finish brought the Wildcats up three goals as they went into halftime.
Coach McLaughlin assured his players at halftime that their job wasn’t finished, and they still had another half of soccer to play. The Wildcats took that advice well, continuing their defensive prowess and knocking in another two goals in the process, both at the hands of sophomore Zsombor Onodi.
When the final whistle blew, the Wildcats walked away with a booming 6-1 win, and a new school record as well. The Wildcats soccer program has won 32 games and counting without a draw OR a loss, as this year’s team collaborated with last year’s to make it official.
The Soccer Cats take on the Medina Bees for the fifth year in a row in the State Semifinal at Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Tune into the SIBN for coverage and analysis, as this match-up serves as the unofficial tiebreaker for the two teams from the last five years. Saint Ignatius defeated Medina in 2016 and 2019, while the Bees defeated the Wildcats in 2017 and 2018. It should be a class match, as the Bees are red hot, coming off of a similarly dominant 6-1 victory over Findlay.
The Cleveland Home Title Pregame Show will start at 6:20, hosted by yours truly. Stay tuned!