Denver, Colorado: The Wildcats arrived at Cherry Creek High School on Friday an hour before gametime, ready for a challenge against one of the area's top teams. The Wildcats had practiced earlier in the day, but were still adjusting to the higher altitude before the game. Coach Mike McLaughlin '85 fired up the team before the game, saying, "Let's show everyone how hard we work in Ohio."
The Soccer Cats worked hard from the outset, as Everett Shorey broke through two minutes into the game. Shorey found an opening on the left side, tapping it past the Cherry Creek defenders. The Wildcats' offense pressured the Cherry Creek defense, as Riley Houde, Patrick Strauss, and Adam Collins all notched promising shots on net.
Collins in particular nearly found the back of the net with 1:30 remaining in the half, as the Cherry Creek goalkeeper deflected the shot high over the net.
At halftime, Coach McLaughlin again fired put the Cats with an inspirational speech.
"Keep putting in the effort," he said. "Finish your chances, that's what this game is all about."
Using frequent substitutions to counter fatigue in the second half, the Wildcats answered McLaughlin's challenge. Alex Gotsky crossed a pass from the right side to a waiting Matthew McLaughlin, who slotted the ball into the bottom right half of the net with 22:30 left in the second.
The ball found the back of the net not soon after on a Cherry Creek own goal, as the ball deflected off a Bruin after a hard Saint Ignatius shot by sophomore Kory Nekoloff. As per a Saint Ignatius soccer tradition, Mr. Jim Brennan '85 receives credit for the goal, his fourth credited goal of the season.
The Wildcats rounded out the scoring with 3:30 remaining in the contest. Senior Haralambos "Bobby" Tsirambidis tiptoed into the crease, tipping a long crosser from Adam Collins into the net.
As McLaughlin said after the game, today's contest was mentally and physically challenging for the Wildcats. Playing in Denver poses a tough task for any team from out of state, due to the high difference in altitude. The playing surface was also grass, just the second time this season the Wildcats have played on natural grass.
However, the Wildcats still found a way to dominate and earn the win. Now, the challenge is to fuel up before tomorrow's (Saturday) big day, which includes a trip to Pike's Peak before Saturday evening's matchup with Regis Jesuit.
Note From Mr. Eddie Dwyer: The Soccer Cats, the top ranked Division I team in Ohio and the No. 1-ranked program in USA Today's Super 25 national poll, enter Saturday's action at 10-0-2. Coach McLaughlin's two-time defending and record seven-time state champion Wildcats carry an unbeaten streak of 48 consecutive matches.