The Saint Ignatius soccer programs achieved two historic milestones on Saturday afternoon during Senior Day.
The Wildcats recorded the 600th win in the history of the soccer program on Saturday in a 6-2 decision over Toledo St. Francis. The victory also marked the 400th win for the program's leader – Mike McLaughlin '85.
McLaughlin advanced his record at Saint Ignatius to 400-51-51, an incredible testament to the success the longtime coach has built at Wildcat High.
McLaughlin feels grateful to all of those who have contributed to the success.
"I don't feel old, I don't look old, but when I look at that number, I think of someone who's been on the sidelines for 50 years," McLaughlin said. "But it makes me feel like I've been standing on the sideline for a long time. It also makes me feel really proud that we have a program that is that successful. I'm thankful to all of the players who have worn the blue and gold to earn those victories, along with the coaches who have been by my side.
"Soccer is a team game. It's won by a group of people," he continued. "I know that, and I'm grateful to everyone who has contributed to both the wins and losses. I've been lucky to be surrounded by a lot of great coaches, players, managers, and SIBN broadcasters. I'm proud that we've created an environment where kids love to be a part of it."
The historic victory was not always assured, though, as Toledo St. Francis put up quite a fight.
The Knights and Wildcats each scored once in the first half. The teams entered the break with a 1-1 draw.
The Wildcats took the lead back briefly in the second before the Knights tied it. Then the floodgates opened and the Soccer Cats scored four goals in a row, taking control to secure the victory.
"It's always great to be challenged in different ways. Toledo St. Francis threw us some things we had to sort out," McLaughlin said. "That's why the game is 80 minutes long. We went back and forth a little bit, and figured things out. By the end, we were on top, where we wanted to be."
Looking at the game as a whole, the Soccer Cats played a great and entertaining game, dominating possession. Matthew McLaughlin and Ryan Roberts tallied two goals each for the Wildcats. Senior captain Kyle Healy had a penalty kick for the Cats. Defender Theo Kudlo had an outstanding chip shot over the keeper.
The Wildcats were scored on twice, and they can fix those mistakes, but the offense made up for it. The outside backs have been doing a good job of getting up and down the field and being an option for the outside midfielders.
Having the win come on Senior Day meant a lot to McLaughlin.
"Over the years, it's the seniors who have driven the program. It was a wonderful moment to have it happen on Senior Day," said Coach McLaughlin. "These six seniors have been tremendous. They have been great leaders, and have been great both on and off the field. They have created an atmosphere within the team this year. Every kid loves coming to practice and loves being with each other. I couldn't be more proud of what they've done and the position they've put us in entering the playoffs."
The Wildcats advanced to 11-1-2 with the victory. The Cats will play on Tuesday against Padua at Padua High School. JVA starts at 5 p.m. and Varsity at 7 p.m. The JVA team had a nice 3-1 victory over the Knights to advance to 9-1-1.
To conclude, Coach McLaughlin voiced the most important thank you of all – to his loving wife, Motria.
"I want to thank my wife for being there for over 500 games. She has been a wonderful coach's wife," McLaughlin said. "She is supportive of everything I do and helps to make it all possible. She's shared soccer wisdom over the years that has helped us accomplish what we've accomplished."