SANDUSKY, Oh - This past week, the Saint Ignatius Wildcats continued their historic season in Regionals, as the team captured the program’s 17th Regional Championship after defeating Medina this past Saturday. The Cats’ successful season will continue after some dominant performances in the playoffs thus far.
Saint Ignatius Wildcats 6, Sylvania Southview Cougars 0
Last Wednesday, the Wildcats would face a very prolific team in the Southview Cougars, a quality side with some good wins throughout the playoffs. With a front line combined for 59 goals on the season and one of the most supportive and pleasant parents and fans I have ever encountered, things were looking up to be a good match in Sandusky, OH.
Despite focusing more on the attack, and a plethora of goods conceded, the Cougars took a very defensive approach to the game, having the wingers drop back into the defense to combat the Wildcats’ quickly-progressing side. Things were going to plan, with the match going scoreless for the first three-quarters of the first half before the Wildcats took things into their own hands.
A solid attacking buildup led to the ball being fed to Zsombor Onodi in the middle of the box. Onodi was fouled as he was lining up, and the striker drew a penalty. Luciano Pechota lined up for the penalty and buried it to the left, past the keeper who had guessed the right direction and even got a fingertip on it.
As we know, when the Wildcats smell blood in the water, they capitalize on the opposition’s weaknesses. About one minute later, the Wildcats trod down the pitch to knock in another one. Nolan Spicer would get the ball by the touchline and play in a low ball to Zsombor Onodi for a wide-open tap in the center. This goal settled this year’s side’s record-breaking scoring, as they broke the record for the most goals scored in a single season.
The Wildcats met their impressive quota and went into the half with even more hunger.
Five minutes into the second half, Josip Rimac would score another one with the assist coming from Owen Sullivan.
Eight minutes after that, Pechota scored the fourth. Rimac did a great solo run down the right-hand side. He cut into the middle and had a crack that would go off the post but fortunately fell right into the feet of Pechota, who secured his brace as he hit it with pure power, past the disgruntled defense and into the back of the net. 4-0 to the good now.
The two other goals came by the end of the match, as Rimac picked up a brace off of an excellent free-kick on the left-hand side of the field, as he took it past the wall and right in between the post and keeper for the fifth.
Finally, Giancarlo Sarti made a good run off a long ball from Owen Maruca with five minutes remaining. Sarti muscled off a few defenders and placed it past the keeper for the final goal. The Wildcats would then take on a historic rival of theirs, the Medina Bees.
Saint Ignatius Wildcats 3, Medina Bees 0
BRUNSWICK, Oh - On Saturday, the Wildcats would face one of their biggest challenges mentally and physically, as the Medina Bees awaited them at Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium. With a neck and neck historical record, things were tense entering the Regional Final.
This was the sixth consecutive year these teams had faced off in the playoffs and the first time they hadn’t played in the State Semifinals. Medina had picked up wins in 2017 and 2018, while the Wildcats had taken 2016, 2019, and 2020.
Both teams thoroughly examined their opponents, and the match was bound to be a classic.
A majority of the half was stellar end-to-end football, with significant transitions and defensive work-rate from both sides. This game showed the Wildcats backline’s importance, as the defense (especially Ernie Vargo in this one) stepped up and made some crucial defensive plays.
The Bees continued getting people behind the ball, minimizing the Wildcats’ quality chances and forcing them to shoot from a distance.
The Cats would break the seam with about two minutes left in the first half. The lads made significant forward progress on the right side of the pitch, as the ball was eventually fed to Nathan Smith. Smith played a lovely cross into the center of the box for recently committed Nolan Spicer. Spicer placed a powerful header off the bottom of the crossbar and over the goal line in a stunning fashion.
They would go into the half with a narrow 1-0 deficit but quickly gained momentum.
Ten minutes into the second half, the Wildcats knocked in another one. Ignatius moved up with good numbers as the ball was swung around the box. Nathan Trickett played a terrific ball to Spicer, whose first shot got blocked, but his second shot was a lovely near-post finish for a 2-0 deficit and secure a brace.
The final goal came with just eight minutes remaining, as Luciano Pechota chased down the ball near the touchline and crossed it in before the defenders could adequately recover. Onodi secured his position in the middle and headed it powerfully past the keeper for the third and final goal.
The Wildcats toppled one of Ohio’s finest with a stunning performance. The Wildcats will be in action on Wednesday against the Avon Eagles, who have made it farther than many expected, but continue putting up entertaining matches and passionate football all around. The game will be at 7:00 p.m. at Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium. SIBN coverage will start around 6:00 p.m. Stay tuned!