Before introductions began Wednesday evening's rivalry contest between Saint Ignatius and St. Edward at Brother James Everett CSC Stadium, junior Matthew McLaughlin talked to his teammates about the game.
"It's about passion, not fashion. Let's slice and dice."
The Wildcats certainly played passionately, but also scored plenty of fashionable goals in Lakewood in Wednesday.
Rolling to six goals in the first half, the Soccer Cats dominated the Eagles en route to a 7-0 victory in Lakewood. The score sheet was filled with Saint Ignatius names, as seven different scorers found the back of the net.
The contest began with fierce action, mostly controlled by the Wildcats. The visitors fired a plethora of shots towards the goal, a few on net, but several high over the bar and through the football uprights. The Eagles fought eagerly, challenging the Wildcats at every turn.
After knocking on the door for 13 minutes, the Wildcats broke through. On a free kick from the near side, Matthew McLaughlin tabbed a pass to Austin Zeleznik, who was open and waiting at the left corner of the box. Zeleznik kicked a hard line drive towards the goal box. The ball met Henry Curtis, who deflected it into the right side of the net for a goal.
"We want to start strong every time we start a game, that's really critical," said Head Soccer Coach Mike McLaughlin '85. "We want to keep the momentum in our favor, and we did that. This is a big rivalry game, and St. Ed's will put up a fight. They worked hard and put up challenges early on, but eventually, we wore them down."
Curtis' tally unleashed the flood gates. Not long after the captain's goal, St. Edward had an own goal. As is Saint Ignatius tradition, the goal is credited on the scoresheet to varsity assistant and head JV coach Jim Brennan '85. The Wildcats' next goal proved to be one of the prettiest goals you'll ever see at the high school level.
A Zeleznik throw-in from the near side touch line found the foot of a St. Edward player. The eager Eagle attempted to clear, but the ball found Kyle Folds. The junior caromed the ball with his right foot to control it. An Eagles player charged forward, so Folds lifted the ball with his right foot over the head of the Eagle. Folds found the ball with his right knee, let the ball bounce once, and then rocketed the ball into the top right corner of the net with his left foot.
The SportsCenter Top 10-worthy goal elicited an eruption from the Wildcats' student section and looks of shock and awe from the Saint Ignatius bench. Every player on the Wildcats' sideline asked to see a replay of the goal again (you can watch it on Twitter here).
"Anytime the ball goes in the upper corner in the upper 90, it's a beauty. Kyle is a dangerous threat around the goal," McLaughlin said of the Louisville commit. "It wasn't easy for him to hit it. He vollyed it up, and he had to hit it perfectly. Either you hit it perfectly or it's going in the woods. He hit it perfectly."
The highlight reel goals just kept coming. Bryce Horton found the net for the third straight game, extending the lead to 4-0 Wildcats in the blink of an eye. Just minutes later, Kyle Healy scored anothe beautiful goal.
The senior received a free kick for the Wildcats from the 15-yard line. The captain fired a laser into the top right corner of the net, a marvelous goal that left the Wildcats awestruck once again.
"In pregame, Kyle was smashing the ball into the back of the net," McLaughlin said. "He was sharp and that was a tremendous kick. There was no doubt or hesitation."
Healy was all smiles after the game while his friends and teammates surrounded him for the postgame interview.
"It's amazing, we needed to dominate from the start and that's exactly what we did," Healy said. "[On the goal], the goalie was inching to the left post, so I decided to curve it to the right post, and see if I could beat him there."
Healy indeed beat him, extending the Wildcats' lead to 5-0.
The advantage grew to six with 2:41 left before halftime. Zeleznik slotted a pass to Matthew McLaughlin on the left side of the box off a corner kick. McLaughlin calmly left-footed it into the left side of the net for the Wildcats' final tally of the half.
As St. Edward's Norm Weber reported, the Wildcats outshot the Eagles, 19-1, enjoyed an 11-0 lead in shots on goal, and saw large advantages in free kicks, 5-1, and corner kicks, 6-1.
In the second half, the Wildcats rotated in as many players as possible, as a number of players sat on the sideline on Wednesday due to injury. The Eagles kept up the fight and earned more shots in the second, as the Wildcats edged off the pedal some.
Joe Katic tallied the Wildcats' lone goal of the second half to finish off the scoring with 19 minutes remaining. The junior fired the ball off the keeper's hand and into the right side of the net.
Sophomore Zolie Nagy did an otherwise admirable job in net in the second half for St. Edward, recording five saves.
On the flipside, Danny Radigan stayed strong in net. The junior showed no signs of stress or pressure, handling the contest well. The shutout marked the first of the season for Radigan. The junior had a strong defense in front of him, too. Junior Danny Kalic celebrated his birthday with a great game and cupcakes afterwards.
As a whole, McLaughlin was impressed with his team's offensive performance.
"It's great to see seven different people score goals. Scoring from out wide, scoring from in the middle," McLaughlin said. "This is a tough place to play. Despite any team's records, when St. Ed's and Saint Ignatius play, there is so much emotion and energy that it changes the game in a lot of ways. To get the boys to settle down and play soccer is hard. Once we settled down, we were great."
The Wildcats advanced to 6-0-1 on the year with the victory. The rivalry win checks another box for the Soccer Cats this season.
"We have several goals that we set for the season," McLaughlin said. "One of those goals is always to beat St. Ed's. We can check off another one – win the Jesuit Cup, beat St. Ed's, and now we've got more goals to go achieve."
The quest continues on Saturday. The Wildcats will host the Copley Indians. Copley will enter with a 4-1 record, ranked No. 10 in Ohio by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.
Saturday's game, slated for a 3 pm start after the JV game, will be Camper Appreciation Day on Wasmer Field. Campers will be welcomed to midfield at halftime for a fun ceremony.
The SIBN will have the call on Saturday. Ryce Federle, Connor Barchanowicz, Zach Houde, and Matt Isaac will have the call.
JV A keeps rolling: The men of Jim Brennan kept on winning on Wednesday. The Wildcats to 4-1-1 with a 6-0 win over the Eagles. Josip Rimac led the scoring with two tallies.
JV B stays perfect: The young Wildcats squad has a flawless 6-0 record entering a showdown with St. Edward on Friday. The Wildcats beat Western Reserve Academy at home on Tuesday, 5-0.