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Soccer Cats Compete in the Great River Classic

By Jack Brennan '24, 10/04/23, 9:30AM EDT


Over the weekend, the Wildcats competed in Iowa in the Great River Classic against some of the best teams in the country.

Vs. Marquette University HS (WI)

BETTENDORF, IA - The Wildcats traveled to Bettendorf, Iowa, this past Friday to play in the 2023 Great River Classic. Their two-match campaign would kick off against Marquette University High School (WI), a team revered for their 16 WIAA State Championships. After a slow start, the Wildcats battled back to earn a 2-2 tie.

The Cats would come out in a 3-4-3, looking to put pressure on the Hilltopper midfield. However, the loss of a defender would quickly prove costly. After playing a ball up top, the Marquette striker would outrun the Saint Ignatius defenders, leaving him clear on net where he’d score and give the Hilltoppers an early lead just two minutes into the game.

No more than 20 minutes later, the Hilltoppers would strike again in stunning fashion. The Marquette striker dribbled around the top of the arc, several steps from the penalty box, then crossed the ball with backspin, causing the ball to dip into the back of the net. The Cats found themselves down 2-0.

Coming out of the half, the Wildcats would play with an immense sense of urgency, seeking desperately to erase the deficit. A breakthrough would finally arrive in the 70th minute. Rafa de la Barrera would cross a ball to the opposite side of the penalty box, where James Pacetti would hammer a beautiful ball into the back of the net, breathing life into the Wildcat side.

The Wildcats were not satisfied just cutting the deficit to one, as they’d continue to work the ball in the box. After a rebound of a shot, Zalan Onodi was fouled in the penalty box; the ref pointed to the spot and a penalty kick was awarded. Nick Mikulec stepped up as cool as you like and slotted the ball home, tying the game at 2-2.

The full-time whistle would blow and the game would end with that same 2-2 scoreline. And while this wasn’t the result the Cats were hoping for, they showed tremendous resolve to not give up on the game and come back for a hard-fought draw.

Vs. Naperville North (IL)

On Saturday, the Wildcats fell to the Naperville North Huskies (IL) 3-0, concluding their series at the Great River Classic tournament in Bettendorf, Iowa. 

Looking to find more defensive success, the Wildcats would play a 4-1-3-2. However, Naperville would manage to break through thanks to a series of defensive blunders by the Wildcats. Roughly 20 minutes into the game, the Huskies would hit a ball in the box, which the Cats would try to clear. Instead, the ball ricocheted twice off of two different Huskies, leaving the striker with an open look on goal. He’d hit the ball right between the open legs of the Wildcat keeper, putting the Huskies in front. 

The Huskies would then put one more in the back of the net before the half, giving the Wildcats an uphill battle to come back down 2-0 in the blazing Iowa heat.

Although the Cats would find several opportunities early in the second half, it would be Naperville who would tally the first and only goal of the second half. After a ball was crossed into the box, it would glance off of the hand of a Wildcat defender, leading to a penalty kick that Naperville would score easily. 

The deficit in the exhausting conditions would prove too difficult for the Wildcats to overcome, as they’d be bested 3-0. The Wildcats fall to 7-3-2 on the season and will play their rivals, the St. Edward Eagles, on Wednesday, October 4 at Wasmer Field. Head Soccer Coach Mike McLaughlin ’85 will be celebrated in a pregame ceremony for his 500th win with the program.