BRUNSWICK, Oh - On Wednesday, the Wildcats would face a great opponent in the dying embers of their season in the Avon Eagles, a strong side, embracing the underdog role with their spot in the Semifinals. The match was a close one, with excellent defense and plenty of passion.
The Cats were back at Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium once again. After a successful win against their biggest rivals in the Medina Bees, they were ready to rock against Avon, who has had a series of tight games to lead to their rightful place in the final four.
It was a cold night and an excellent atmosphere for the match, both teams showing up with a decent student section and plenty of noise and excitement for what was to come.
Avon came out in a 3-5-2, with a very defensive shift and a flat defensive line. The Wildcats came out in their usual blistering, unique 4-3-3 with their accustomed tactics.
Things kicked off in a very neutral way, as both teams got good possession of the ball, but no real attacking chances for either side for a majority of the first half. The Wildcats continued to attack but posed no real threat as Avon not only parked the bus but seemed to have retired that bus never to be used again. With a flat defensive line and midfielders dropping back, combined with the skill involved, the Wildcats could not penetrate through the backline, having few chances to break the deadlock.
After an exciting but uneventful first half, both sides went into the half with a scoreless match of 0-0.
“Our mentality stayed the same; we knew our time would come,” says Nathan Trickett on the message at the half. “We kept our head clear and we knew it would happen for us.”
The Wildcats moved some things around into the second half while the Eagles continued their defensive gameplan, looking to break their opponents mentally slowly. Things looked about the same for a while until the Wildcats finally tallied on a goal in the 55th minute.
After a significant buildup on the left-hand side of the pitch, the ball fell to Nolan Spicer, who turned to his right as he was facing away from the goal to lay it off to Nathan Trickett making a run, crashing into the box. Trickett took a touch and laid it past the keeper for an impressive goal, and the Wildcats could finally breathe a sigh of relief as they found themselves in front.
"We were working with the ball around the 18-yard line, trying to find an open man," explains Trickett. "I lost my defender and Nolan Spicer played me an open ball, I took my time and put it in back post."
The rest of the match was not significantly different from the rest, as, despite the deficit, Avon continued the defensive mindset, but with more of a focus on the long ball to transition. Both teams had a few chances by the end of the match, but nothing came to fruition as the final whistle blew at last and the Wildcats’ letter to Lower.com was signed, sealed, and delivered.
"It is a feeling like nothing else and it was a sigh of relief," Trickett says. "This was a close match and we're just happy to make it to Columbus."
The Wildcats advance to the OHSAA State Championship to take on the Centerville Elks, a class team from Southern Ohio to give the Cats a true game. The Soccer Cats seek the program’s 11th title and three-peat. Coverage on the SIBN will begin around 5:30-6 p.m., and the match will start at 7:00 p.m. Stay tuned, and Go Cats!