TWINSBURG, Oh - On Tuesday night, the Wildcats traveled down to Twinsburg to take on the Tigers. The underdog side has an excellent team this year; plenty of experience and grit scattered throughout the pitch, and they had a great start to the season, taking a 2-1 win over Solon, one of the top teams in Ohio. The Wildcats are looking to continue their ongoing standards after a brilliant tread with Avon Lake while bringing momentum and confidence down to Cincinnati on the weekend.
Both teams set up with their typical 4-3-3 formations, looking to prioritize as match time approaches. Twinsburg focused on the defensive side of things while the Wildcats played their usual game, using a more long ball-oriented playstyle as the first half progressed.
The Cats played a typical game with the kickoff underway, while Twinsburg used high-pressure levels and more aggressive defensive tactics to catch the Wildcats off guard. Twinsburg started on the right foot, putting in quality challenges and compacting the middle of the pitch as the Wildcats had to put up with more than anticipated.
However, the Cats still did quite well offensively, as the lads still had the ball mainly situated in Twinsburg’s half, getting good chances here and there.
The Wildcats almost got the upper hand relatively early on, as a superb attacking run into the box by the wing-back Nathan Smith almost proved lethal for the Tigers as the crossbar denied his effort.
Chances kept coming for the Cats, but the Tiger’s defense continued to shine with great tackles from the likes of Cameron Griffin coming back from the midfield and the Senior goalkeeper Connor Mack putting on a great performance in goal for the Tigers, bringing a whole new meaning to the term “last line of defense.”
The official blew for the halftime whistle with the scoresheet still blank at the half with a box-to-box competition building.
The Cats knew some changes had to be made at the half, but maybe not as much as they had expected. “We stretched out our wingers wide, and then the goals did come,” remarks Head Soccer Coach Mike McLaughlin ’85. “They began to clog up the middle, and there wasn’t any room to play, so we spread the play out.”
Out of the half, the Wildcats came out properly blazing with chances, as they struck pretty early in the first half, with Luciano Pechota playing a stunning ball from a few yards out of the box to the right-hand side for Nolan Spicer, but cut inside, brushes off the defenders, and finished front post in impressive fashion. The Wildcats were finally on the board, and they set a proper tone as they looked to make more of the situation.
The Wildcats scored again shortly after, as Josip Rimac made a similar back post run and finish to turn the lead to 2-0. Despite protest, the goal still stood, as the Wildcats were rolling now.
The Wildcats finished their scoring for the evening with Owen Sullivan playing a delightful cross into the middle to Zsombor Onodi, who made a good run into the box to tap it in for a simple finish.
After more perseverance and possession, the Wildcats topped off the game with a staggering 3-0 victory in the end.
“I’m grateful Twinsburg plays us every year. It’s always a great game; It’s amazing how hard they work and how well they play together,” explains McLaughlin. “We travel all over the country and play a lot of different teams, and this is always one of our more challenging games.
The Wildcats brilliantly built on top of their momentum as they prepared for the Jesuit Cup on the weekend. They look to face Walsh Jesuit on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at St. Xavier Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. If they win, they will play the next day at 11:00 a.m. against the winner of the match of St. Xavier and St. John’s Jesuit in Toledo. Coverage will be on SIBN.