OHIO CITY, Oh - On Friday night, the season ended for the Lacrosse Cats as they fell to the Hudson Explorers 19-12 in the OHSAA Regional Final. Saint Ignatius vs. Hudson on the lacrosse field always produces a memorable game and the Wildcats came into Friday winning the previous two meetings. The two programs faced each other earlier this season on March 24 in Hudson, the Wildcats would score seven unanswered goals in the second half to win 14-9 and in 2021, the Cats held on to defeat Hudson 8-6 in the Regional Final.
As the teams took Wasmer Field for pregame warm-ups, the rain showers began and would continue to come down hard until mid-way through the first. Within the first couple of minutes of the Regional Final, the Wildcats were on the board with terrific passing from Drew Wynocker to Luciano Yacovone, which was capped off with a goal from Hunter Moriarity.
Hudson answered the Wildcat goal with 8:27 remaining in the first period as Jack Jenkins fought through John Klinge and Connor Grace and scored a goal while colliding with Saint Ignatius goalie Logan Rechin to neutralize the score at one.
Alec Dickens would give Hudson their first lead of the night with a goal at the 7:39 mark of the first quarter. Griffin Taliak would tie the score at two with a tremendous shot about 12 yards out to get it past the Explorer Goalie. Hudson would come back to take a 4-2 advantage in the first quarter, but Braeden Lair and Moriarity's goals evened the score again.
The early storyline of the first half was the Wildcat's ability to fight back when they fell behind against Hudson. Trailing 6-4 in the second quarter, Wynocker was the spark for the Wildcat offense. After a pick by Mitch Rini, Wynocker had open space and scored with ease to make the score 6-5. With 1:52 left to play in the first half, Taliak would get his second goal to tie the game at six.
Hudson showed their explosiveness on offense just before half as the Explorers would tack on two more goals within ten seconds. Frank Mulvaney would score with seven seconds left to play in the half. Hudson would come back to win the face-off and come down quick and score as Jenkins would get a goal as time expired in the first half, making the score 8-6 in favor of Hudson at the half.
The Explorers continued their momentum heading into the third quarter as Jenkins would achieve a hat trick at the 10:32 mark of the third quarter. Dickens would get a hat-trick at the 9:14 point of the third quarter to make the score 10-6. Desperate for a spark, the Wildcats would receive a jolt from Taliak as he put one in the back of the net with 1:18 left to play in the third, cutting the Hudson lead to 10-7.
Saint Ignatius would continue their comeback in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter as Wynocker made the score 10-8. Hudson continued to answer the Wildcats as Dickens made the score 11-8 with 9:23 left to play in the game. That Dickens goal would spark a Hudson six unanswered goal run over the next five minutes, making the score 16-8.
Taliak would continue to try and pull the Cats back in the game as within 45 seconds, the senior put two in the back of the net to make the score 16-10 with 3:45 remaining in the fourth quarter. Matt Kempton would score just 13 seconds later, cutting the Hudson lead to five as the Cats had new signs of life.
The run was not enough for the Wildcats, as Hudson would prevail with a 19-12 win to advance to the State Semifinal.
Despite the loss, the lacrosse program continues to build at Saint Ignatius High School. A tremendous team that saw multiple student-athletes receive Division I offers. Drew Wynocker and Braeden Lair will continue their academic and athletic career at the University of Denver. Gino DeVengencie will be heading to Canisius College in the fall.
The program graduates two student-athletes in the record books; Wynocker holds the record for 73 goals in a season and Luciano Yacovone has the record for assists in a season with 48. Wynocker also holds the record for most goals in a game with nine.
The potential for next season's team is high, with the underclassman receiving a tremendous amount of experience from this season. The Lacrosse Cats dealt with their fair share of injuries this season, but the positive was the younger guys getting varsity level experience. The search for the program's first State Championship will have to wait one more year.