OHIO CITY, Oh - This past Saturday, the Wildcats took on the St. John’s Jesuit Titans in the first round of the 2023 Ohio Jesuit Cup. They looked to rebound from their surprise of a 2-0 loss to Twinsburg in their previous game.
The Saint Ignatius side would come out in a 4-3-3, aiming to strike first and strike fast. The Cats would get their early-doors goal five minutes in, as Marty McLaughlin would have a left-footed strike from a few steps outside the penalty box. The ball sailed straight toward the goalkeeper, who couldn’t control the hard-struck ball and ricocheted into the back of the net.
The Wildcats would notch their second breakthrough. Nick Mikulec played a ball through to Rafa de la Barrera, who shot the ball directly to the goalkeeper. However, the ball careened right to the feet of the sophomore midfielder Domenic Ruggiero, who poached the ball away with an open net in front of him. Ruggiero’s first varsity goal extended the Wildcat lead to 2-0.
Yellow cards began to fly as the first half drew to a close, with the game ramping up in aggression, mainly on the side of the Titans. Nevertheless, the 2-0 Wildcat lead prevailed through the second half’s early stages.
Twenty minutes into that second half, Rafa de la Barrera would play a magnificent aerial ball to Casey Meltzer, who tapped the ball past the goalkeeper. Seven minutes later, the Wildcats would cap off the scoring with a Sam Trivisonno chip, assisted by Mikulec.
Amidst the Wildcat scoring, St. John’s aggression would boil over. Saint Ignatius sophomore Bryce Ince-Lovelace would dribble the ball upfield and then pass the ball upfield. As he got rid of the ball, St. John’s senior Declan Loisel, having already been booked in the first half, collided with Ince-Lovelace, knocking him to the ground. The ref blew his whistle and, without a moment’s hesitation, raised a yellow and subsequently a red card. The Titans would have to try to claw back with only ten men.
The Saint Ignatius defensive line would hold the fort for the match’s final ten minutes. Securing a full-time win of 4-1. The Cats advanced to the Jesuit Cup Final and added one to the win column, improving their record to 2-1.
The Soccer Cats took on the St. Xavier Bombers on Sunday in the 2023 Ohio Jesuit Cup Final. The Cats, coming off of a win the day prior against St. John’s Jesuit, looked to claim their sixth straight and fourteenth overall Jesuit Cup title.
The Wildcats would once again come out in a 4-3-3, however, with some changes to the lineup from the previous match. Notably, James Pacetti would replace Casey Meltzer on the left wing. The overall game plan was simple: force the ball out as soon as possible and don’t give the Bombers any time to play.
The set piece would turn out to be the friend of the Wildcats today, and Marty McLaughlin and Domenic Ruggiero would take advantage of this early on. The Cats would win a corner on the right side of the field. Using the wind to his advantage, Marty McLaughlin would play a left-footed, in-swinging kick into the six-yard box, where Ruggiero would bury it in the back of the net with a header.
Some twenty minutes later, history would repeat itself, as the Wildcats would win a corner on that same right side of the field again. McLaughlin once again stood over the ball and delivered a cross in. Like a cat amongst pigeons in the box, Ruggiero would score yet another header goal, putting the Wildcats ahead 2-0.
The Cats would notch one final goal in the waning seconds of the second half. The ball would again end up with McLaughlin, who headed the ball through to Sam Trivisonno. The sophomore put the ball in the side netting with a powerful right-footed strike, extending the Wildcat lead to 3-0 with a mere 15 seconds left in the half.
The second half would be very defensively focused as the Cats looked to seal away a shutout and a Jesuit Cup victory. This task became more accessible and easier as the Bombers began to tire.
When the full-time whistle blew, the Wildcats hoisted the Jesuit Cup Trophy yet again, having knocked off St. Xavier 3-0. This win ensured that the Jesuit Cup remained in Cleveland for another year and improved the Cats record to 3-1 on the season. After a two-week hiatus, they will return to play Columbus St. Charles on Saturday, September 9th at 6:00 p.m. on Wasmer Field for Senior Night.