OHIO CITY, Oh - On Friday evening, the Wildcats had set up for one of the most important games of the season so far, tasked with playing one of the higher regarded teams in the nation, with a great deal of motivation to go along with it.
Peoria Notre Dame (IL) came into this match seeking vengeance. Just two years ago, the Wildcats traveled down to Illinois to play them in a classic match, with the most electric atmosphere I have been a part of in any high school sport in my entire life.
The Cats managed to pull out a 2-0 victory on their home turf that night, and with that in mind, the Irish looked to return the favor.
The atmosphere was great on Wasmer Field. Cool, calm weather, plenty of fans from both sides, and the first student section of the year in their home opener; a perfect night for a match.
Within the first four minutes of play, the Wildcats swiftly tallied on two goals to ultimately stunt Peoria’s play. Nolan Spicer and Zsombor Onodi both bringing them home, as the left-back Owen Sullivan assisting them both.
Shortly after, senior Luciano Pechota finished a shot squared in by Nolan Spicer to make it a delightful 3-0 lead just 16 minutes into their match.
The fourth goal coming within just three minutes of the last was quite the brilliant one. Two gorgeous passes through found senior Josip Rimac in the box to place it past the keeper and give the Cats a spectacular 4-0 lead.
The half finished up 4-0, as the Wildcats seemed to seal the match in that one half of high-velocity football.
It did not take long for the Cats to meet their mark once again in the second half. Junior Nathan Trickett played an excellent ball into the center for an awaiting Zsombor Onodi, who put a simple touch on the ball to finish it off and give a five-goal lead.
Goal number six came from a lovely link-up between Rimac and Onodi, which ultimately falls to the feet of Spicer, where the ball rolls their keeper and plays it in, a play of sheer domination that ought to be illegal.
However, the phenomenal goals did not stop there. Onodi sealed his hat trick with an absolute belter from well outside the 18-yard box, finessing it into the corner of the net in stunning fashion, sending the already energetic student section into a downright riot.
"It felt really good being surrounded by my teammates," says Onodi. "It's the first hat trick of the season and we're hoping for many more."
Giancarlo Sarti and Phil Vlastaris took on the last two goals, Sarti getting a rebound off of his shot, while Vlastaris made a great run down the line and put a center back on skates and finishing near post after a great ball over the top from the right-back TJ Fraser.
The Cats would finish the game 9-0, keeping a clean sheet with excellent defensive work and some clutch saves scattered about by the defense.
The Wildcats have only conceded one goal their entire season, coming from a penalty kick; the Cats have yet to concede a goal in the open run of play.
The defensive line should not only be commended for the lack of goals conceded, though, as great passing and runs from the fullbacks have significantly contributed to their offensive success. Owen Sullivan brought in six assists throughout the season, Nathan Smith tallying on a goal of his own, and long balls played by Ernie Vargo and Collin Folds to bring more offensive production, really showing their well-roundedness to accommodate astute defensive work.
"We're practicing everyday and bring are all everyday," explains Onodi. "The pressure is a lot higher than it was last year, so we have to continue to get better everyday."
The result encapsulated a great team effort and a statement to the rest of the country for the Cats’ true potential and the talent they possess now. The Wildcats will be in action for Senior Night on Wasmer Field on Wednesday, September 8, at 7:00 p.m. against Shaker Heights. Tune into SIBN or watch live to support a brilliant team and program packed with talent.