The Wildcats took on the Hudson Explorers on May 5 at Wasmer Field on the campus of Saint Ignatius High School in the regular season. The Cats dropped a close 5-7 battle to the Explorers that night but have rebounded since rattling off five straight wins to get to the Regional Final to rematch against Hudson. Throughout the OHSAA Playoffs, the Wildcats have been road warriors, winning on the road against Jackson and Hoover and came into Friday night hungry for a Regional Championship.
The weather was unseasonably cold and windy with mists of rain for the Regional Final; however, the energy that the Wildcats played with on Friday night kept the Saint Ignatius faithful warm throughout the contest. The night was also highlighted by a program record in goals in a season by junior Andrew Wynocker.
Position Player of the Year Braeden Lair won the opening face-off to give the Blue and Gold the game’s opening possession. The Wildcats dictated the possession setting up their offense; as they worked the ball inside, senior Adam Ormstead found a cutting Wynocker to score the first goal of the Regional Final with 10 minutes remaining in the first period. This tied Wynocker to Michael Boehm’s ’20 season goal record at 71 set in the 2019 season.
The first period was a defensive battle throughout; however, the Wildcats found themselves with a 2-0 advantage. Junior goalie Logan Rechin was a brick wall in front of the net, he was an honorable mention in the All-Region selections, but he appeared as a first-team athlete in the net Friday night.
To open up the second period, Lair was a one-man wrecking crew. Lair won the opening face-off of the period and would race his way down the field, beating multiple Explorer defenders and took a fast-break shot that hit the back of the net for the Cats giving them a 3-0 lead in the early stages of the second period.
Near the eight-minute mark of the second period, Hudson would strike with a shot to the lower 90 that would sneak by the outstretched net of Rechin. With the score at 3-1 in the second period, senior captain Kyu Shim ripped a shot past the Explorer Goalie to extend the Wildcats lead to 4-1 with six minutes remaining in the first half.
On the next Wildcat possession, the Saint Ignatius Lacrosse Program witnessed history as Wynocker broke the program record in goals in a season with 72 and gave the Blue and Gold a commanding 5-1 lead in the first half. The score would remain 5-1 in half, and the Cats were 24 minutes away from a State Semifinal berth.
With a 6-2 lead midway through the third period, a SportsCenter Top 10 worthy play took place for the Wildcats. The Explorers broke away on a fast break and had a great look at the goal. Rechin found a way to put a stick on the ball on the first shot; as he fell to the turf, the ball trickled back to a Hudson attacker who had an open shot in the upper left 90. Rechin sprang up and blocked the rebound shot from Hudson to keep them off the board on the possession. This play left the Explorer crowd speechless as Rechin was a magician in the net.
Hudson would cut the Wildcats lead to 6-4 at the end of the third period. The momentum began to swing in favor of the Explorers heading into the final period of the Regional Semifinal. With nine minutes remaining in the game, Hudson pulled within one goal making the score 6-5.
The Wildcats would get a key goal by Matthew Kempton after a great assist by Wynocker, giving the Wildcats a 7-5 lead with under eight minutes to play. As the Wildcats controlled the possessions in the fourth period, they also controlled the time working the ball around on the offensive side of the field. The Wildcats maintained an 8-5 lead with under four minutes to play in the ball game.
Hudson would get one last goal under a minute to play, making the score 8-6. The Wildcats would burn the rest of the clock to become Regional Champions from Region 2.
The Wildcats will take on Dublin Jerome from Green Memorial Stadium at Green High School on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the State Semifinal with a trip to the State Championship on the line. The SIBN will have live video coverage from Uniontown Lake.