The Lacrosse season came to an unfortunate end Tuesday night in the OHSAA State Semifinal with a 14-13 overtime loss against the Dublin Jerome Celtics. This was the Wildcats' fourth straight appearance in the Final Four and they have been road warriors throughout the postseason with wins on the road against Jackson, Hoover and Hudson to make a State Semifinal berth. They would play arguably the game of the year in Ohio high school lacrosse with an overtime thriller.
Junior Luciano Yacovone started the scoring for the Wildcats on the opening possession with a terrific wrap around the Dublin Jerome goalie to make the score 1-0 in the State Semifinal. After a tying goal from the Celtics, Griffin Taliak rocketed a ball about 15 yards out to the lower right 90 of the goal to give the Cats a 2-1 lead early in the first period.
Braeden Lair, who has been a catalyst for the Wildcats all season long, would continue to do what he does best; winning face-offs. After the face-off wins, Lair took it the distance and bounced a shot past the Celtics goalie towards the lower-left 90, giving the Cats a 3-1 lead early in the first period.
Mike Mattimore is a name that the Wildcat faithful came to know during the basketball season, being an excellent three and defense kind of player. On the lacrosse field, Mattimore is just as dangerous. After a fantastic find by Yacovone, Mattimore powered a shot right past the Dublin Jerome goalie, giving the Cats a 4-2 lead midway through the first period.
As time was ticking down in the first period with less than 10 seconds on the clock, Yacovone found a cutting Andrew Wynocker. Wynocker, almost effortlessly, pushed the ball into the net for a 5-2 advantage for the Wildcats after one period of play against the Celtics.
Junior Christopher Aerni is known for his defense but looked like a true middie on the field to begin the second period. Aerni took the possession the length of the field, and after a crisp spin move to avoid a defender, he found a cutting Kenneth Klubnik who faked a shot high but went low to give the Wildcats a 6-2 lead.
It was all Wildcats in the first half, as Klubnik continued the scoring for the Blue and Gold after an assist by Taliak to make the score 7-3, midway through the second period. Klubnik would score his third goal in a row as the Cats kept the Celtics off-balanced, with an assist by Taliak. This made the score 8-4 with under three to play in the second period.
As the Wildcats headed into halftime, they enjoyed early momentum as their side of the field kept a humble spirit heading into the second half, knowing that the job was not finished. After an opening goal by Dublin Jerome to begin the second half, Klubnik would score yet again after Lair found Klubnik open in the crease for his fourth goal of the night. The Cats maintained a four-goal lead with 10 minutes left to play in the third period.
The Wildcats would earn their biggest lead on the night with a second goal from Yacovone that was similar to his wrap-around shot to begin the match as the Wildcats took a 10-5 advantage against the Celtics. Then, the Celtics started their comeback, scoring four unanswered goals to end the third period. Nevertheless, the Wildcats clung to a 10-9 lead heading into the final regulation period.
Near the ten-minute mark of the fourth period, Dublin Jerome would knot the game up at 10. Looking for a momentum boost, Klubnik ripped a shot past the Celtics goalie, giving the Cats an 11-10 lead. Klubnik, all postseason long, has given the Wildcats a spark they need on the offensive side of the field.
Looking to build off Klubnik's momentum, Taliak fired a shot about 10 yards out to give even more life to the Saint Ignatius sideline as the Wildcats took a two-goal lead with six minutes remaining in the ball game.
Not even 30 seconds later, the Wildcats struck again. Yacovone tossed the ball to Klubnik, who from his knees got the shot to go. This was Klubnik's sixth goal of the night and for Yacovone, a program record for assists in a season. Yacovone totaled 48 assists this season, breaking Michael Boehm's 47 assist record in the 2019 season. The Wildcats took a 13-10 lead with under five minutes to play in the State Semifinal.
The storyline for the Celtics all night long was a resiliency to come back. They did just that in the fourth period as time wound down to score three unanswered goals. Senior midfielder for the Celtics, Ian Bean, scored via a behind-the-back shot to knot the game up at 13, with just over a minute to play in regulation.
With 15 seconds left to play, the Celtics looked to score the game-winning goal. However, junior goalie Logan Rechin sent the Wildcats into overtime with another impressive save in the net, as an OT would decide the State Semifinal.
In the overtime period, the Cats owned the opening possession. Klubnik took a shot to the lower-left 90 for the win, but the Celtics' goalie made an excellent save, dropping to a knee to continue the OT. As Dublin Jerome worked the ball around in their first possession of the OT, Carter Barco found Ethan Siddell in the crease for an open shot to walk it off for Dublin Jerome.
The Celtics will now take on Upper Arlington at Ohio Wesleyan University in the State Championship Saturday at 7 p.m.
As the Wildcats season comes to a close, the 2021 postseason run will be a memorable one. The Blue and Gold broke expectation after expectation and made it to the Final Four in a remarkable season. There are plenty of returners that will be crucial for next season's Lax Cats as two individuals who broke program records return in Andrew Wynocker and Luciano Yacovone. The Wildcats are still hunting for their first State Championship and will be primed to do so in the 2022 season.