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GK Mikal Outcalt garners First Team Division 1 All-Ohio Honors from the OSSCA
11/14/2014
Wildcats' defense pulls through, Duldner has himself a day, Soccer 'Cats are State Champions
11/9/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit November 2014

COLUMBUS, OHIO: As a partly sunny, blue-gray sky was taking on a bit of a winter look over Crew Stadium, Coach Mike McLaughlin '85 stood near the main gate end zone and talked about a soccer season that will go down as one of the greatest and most memorable in his outstanding career at Saint Ignatius.

"This was a dream season," said Coach McLaughlin, who completed his 20th fall as his alma mater's head soccer coach by guiding his Wildcats to a 2-1 victory over a gutsy Olentangy Liberty team in Saturday afternoon's OHSAA Division I State Soccer Championship match.

Saint Ignatius, which closed it fall to recall at 20-2-1, not only brought home another gold trophy, but an Ohio High School Athletic Association state record sixth boys Division I soccer championship. Number five also came against the Patriots of Olentangy Liberty, 4-2, in 2011.

"It was an amazing group of young men and a great group of coaches to be with every day," said Coach McLaughlin, who closed out season 20 with his record sixth state title, 331st career victory and his 87th triumph in 101 OHSAA postseason matches. "We spent a lot of time talking about Xs and Os this season, but we spent even more time talking about fighting, working hard and becoming brothers on the field and how that's what you're going to remember more than anything. A lot of people can play soccer, but what these boys developed throughout the season was a bond and a brotherhood that will be with them for the rest of their lives.

"I think when the game is on the line, those intangibles really take over, the love that they have for each other and how hard they work for each other," Coach McLaughlin continued. "When you get a spirit like that, then you have the opportunity to do special things."

The Wildcats, who ran off 13 consecutive victories in securing title six, did plenty of special things in the first 40 minutes en route to riding two goals by junior midfielder John Duldner and a staunch defensive effort to a 2-0 lead at halftime. Duldner, who did not score a goal on the varsity level during the regular season, finished with four key goals during the postseason run.

Duldner was "Johnny on the Spot" early Saturday afternoon as he struck for his first goal with 8 minutes and 22 seconds remaining in the first 40 minutes and with just over two minutes to go in the first half he made it 2-0.

"The first one, it was crazy, I honestly didn't know the ball was going to come out," said Duldner. "Just like the St. Eds game (a 3-0 victory in the district finals), I was in the right place at the right time and I hit it. The second goal, I saw it coming across the goal and I knew it wasn't going to go in. The goalie tapped it out, I waited for it to bounce and again, just hit it."

Along with Duldner's hit parade, the first half featured some excellent goaltending by Wildcats senior All-American Mikal Outcalt and the Patriots' Sam Nelson.

Nelson prevented Saint Ignatius from taking even a larger lead in the first half by flying from side to side of his net and making diving saves of the one-handed and two-handed variety.

Outcalt, a University of Pittsburgh recruit and a four-year varsity player, used his athletic six-foot-four frame to make consecutive big-time saves, including a 1-on-1 challenge in the first half that saw Mikal extend his body, dive and make the rejection in a highlight-reel motion. Mikal's effort came with the match still scoreless.

Shortly after Mikal's crowd-pleaser, which had the Wildcats' outstanding student body support roaring, Duldner scored the first of his two goals.

"Going up 2-0 is always a tough lead, because you do get a little confident in the locker room at halftime," Outcalt said. "We just said, hey, we have to play forty more minutes to become champions. We knew they (the Patriots) were going to come out (in the second half) hammering shots. But our defense is solid all around and I think we have one of the best back lines in the state."

Olentangy Liberty (19-2-2), which also lost a regular season match up with Saint Ignatius on the Patriots' pitch, did come out with more aggression in the second half and closed to 2-1 with less than eight minutes gone in the final 40 minutes.

With both teams in an attack mode and both goalies continuing to rise to the occasion, the final 30 minutes were physical to say the least.

As the Wildcats and the Patriots fought for their right to the 50-50 balls, the championship match came to an end with Saint Ignatius turning away a flurry of shot attempts in front of its goal as the seconds ticked down.

"We just kept going at it and going at it," said Wildcats senior captain David Sisson, who was an integral part of Coach McLaughlin's outstanding defensive back line. "Every shot (down the stretch), they had four or five guys running at the ball trying to throw something in front of it." David also pointed out that the Cats had to deal with the Patriots' use of space in a counter attack. The large professional pitch in Crew Stadium was a factor for both teams.

"Me and Jack Wiegandt are very strong players and we just get up and get down the field, Hunter Gordon takes care of business on the wings, and he hits people when he needs to and stays back when he needs to, and Dean Miller does what needs to be done,"  Sisson said while describing the now storied Saint Ignatius back line of 2014. "We hit hard when we need to and we're smart when we need to be.

"I've been dreaming about this since I was freshman, Sisson continued.  "Me and (senior captain) Bobby Barsic walked out of here after the 2011 state championship game and said we're going to win this when we're seniors. And we did!"

And Saint Ignatius' Student Body didn't walk out of Crew Stadium Saturday afternoon without one last moving cheer.

"Mr. Skerl, Mr. Skerl!" echoed through the stands as the Wildcats' faithful took time out to pay tribute to their late devoted teacher and mentor, Mr. Jim Skerl '74. Jim lost a courageous battle to cancer late last month.

A fixture at Saint Ignatius for nearly four decades, Mr. Skerl was a great fan of Coach McLaughlin's program, so much so that he would stand on a milk cart behind the fence that runs along the benches at Wasmer Field and root on his beloved Soccer Cats.

As every Saint Ignatius student, soccer player and coach realized when that final shot attempt was turned away, Jim was once again standing tall in their hearts and minds.  

    

 

       

 

  

 

      

 

   

 

 

          

 

 

WILCATS CAPTURE 6th STATE CHAMPIONSHIP WITH 2-1 WIN OVER OLENTANGY LIBERTY
11/8/2014
Coach McLaughlin's Wildcats reach State Final with a 1-0 win over top-ranked Copley
11/6/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit November 2014

Nordonia High School: Behind their outstanding defensive back line of Hunter Gordon, Jack Wiegandt, David Sisson and Dean Miller, some strong work in the middle by John Duldner and Hayden Parente, another unflappable effort by All American goalie Mikal Outcalt and a heads up goal by forward JoeMack Leonardo, Coach Mike McLaughlin's Wildcats improved to 19/2/1 and advanced to Saturday's Division I State Championship match at noon in Columbus's Crew Stadium.

The Soccer Cats, who avenged a regular season setback to Copley and handed the Indians their first loss in 22 matches this season, will face Powell Olentangy Liberty (19/1/2) in Saturday's championship showdown. In capturing its fifth Division I state championship, Saint Ignatius defeated Olentangy Liberty, 4/2, in the 2011 title matchup in Crew Stadium. The Wildcats also defeated the Liberty Patriots, 3/1, during the regular season this fall. That match was played at Olentangy Liberty.  

Coach McLaughlin's Cats, who are attempting to become the first Division I boys soccer team in Ohio to bring home a sixth state championship, have now won 12 consecutive matches. Copley saw its 12 match winning streak come to an end.

Copley and Saint Ignatius entered Wednesday night's matchup on Nordonia High School's Boliantz Field ranked first and second, respectively, in the final Division I state poll by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association. Copley was also ranked among the top three to five programs nationally all season.

Olentangy Liberty finished in a tie for sixth place with Mason in the final OSSCA poll.

Coach McLaughlin, currently in his 20th season as the head of his alma mater's tradition rich soccer program, will enter Saturday's state championship match with 330 career victories, including a remarkable eighty six victories in 100 OHSAA postseason matches.

A DECISIVE CASE FOR THE DEFENSE

"We've been working since day one in tryouts," said a jubilant Hunter Gordon, who as a junior is part of one of the top back lines Ohio has to offer. "We knew it was going to be a fight, all year long. Coming in here tonight, we knew we had to shut them out to win. We knew our offense would make something happen. That's what we needed to do, and we got it done.

"We take so much pride into that (the work of the back line)," Gordon continued. "We get mad when we let goals in. We let up only 11 all season (through Wednesday night), which is probably one of the best marks in the state."

Gordon's main assignment on Wednesday night was Copley's gifted junior forward Chris Brennan, a challenge he relished.

"I've known Chris since I was about 11 or 12," Gordon said. "We've played with each other and against each other. It's a good relationship."

Gordon emphasized that he is where he wanted to be ever since he was a freshman at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School, preparing for a state championship match.

"The last two years, we were heartbroken," said Gordon, referring to overtime shootout losses to St. Edward in the district finals. "We didn't want it to happen again, and it didn't happen. We made it through."

En route to its 10th appearance in the state final four, Saint Ignatius defeated St. Edward, 3/0, in the District Championship Game on Krenzler Field at Cleveland State University.

"They (Copley) hadn't had a goal scored on them first in any of their matches this season," Gordon said of the 2014 Indians' first experience of playing behind. "We put pressure on them, high pressure. When we got the first goal, we knew they would be on their heels, that they would be down. They're not used to that."

THE JOEMACK ATTACK: "It was just a throw in and the ball was bouncing around," said Wildcats talented, tough and personable senior forward JoeMack Leonardo, whose goal with 4 minutes and 34 seconds remaining in the first half will be remembered as the one that opened the door for a shot at a record sixth state championship.

"Like any other moment, the ball came to me and, by the Grace of God, I was able to finish it," JoeMack continued. "The ball bounced in the air off a defender and I just volleyed it with my left foot.

"For me, this means the world," said JoeMack. "I'm from California (enrolled at Saint Ignatius as a sophomore) and my dad (Mark) is still out there. So I've had the option to move back with him. But this soccer team is the most important thing to me. I wanted to have the opportunity to win states this year. This is why I stayed, and it's all working out."

FROM THE MAN WHO HAS DEVELOPED ONE OF THE STRONGEST AND CLASSIEST HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER PROGRAMS IN OHIO AND THE NATION, COACH MCLAUGHLIN: "I was so excited, I only got two hours of sleep (Tuesday) night," said Coach McLaughlin, who before the post match prayer emphasized to his team that they are going to the State Championship match because they won most of the fifty, fifty balls against Copley.

"Collectively, this was the best defensive effort we've had all year, clearly," Coach McLaughlin said. "That was a really good offense that we played against. Perhaps the most prolific offense in the state this year. To keep them from scoring a goal, I can't say enough about how proud I am of these guys."

Coach McLaughlin pointed out how great it was to have a healthy complete lineup on Wednesday night, including difference makers like senior David Sisson on the back line and multi skilled junior forward Lawrence Karpeh. The veteran coach also pointed to another scoring opportunity that just missed, an authoritative shot by soccer savvy junior midfielder Hayden Parente that went off the left post with just under 14 minutes left in the first half.

"It was a battle of two great defenses, and we were able to put the ball in the back of the net," said Coach McLaughlin.

BY THE NUMBERS, WHICH SPEAK VOLUMES FOR HOW SOLID BOTH DEFENSES WERE.

Courtesy of Wildcats outstanding assistant coach Joe Popelka

Saves: Each goalie had one.

Shots: 7 for the Wildcats and 3 for the Indians.

Corners: 4 for Saint Ignatius, 3 for Copley.

        

Wildcat Soccer defeats Hudson 2-1 in Regional Final, faces Copley Wednesday in State Semifinal
11/2/2014
Mikal Outcalt, Coach McLaughlin selected to 4th Annual High School All-American Game
10/30/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Senior Mikal Outcalt, a University of Pittsburgh recruit and an All-American goalie, will be among forty-two of the nation’s elite boy’s high school soccer players from fall playing states that will take part in the Fourth Annual High School All-American Game on December 13, 2014 in Raleigh, NC.

The players selected are seniors who will have finished their high school careers and have represented their high school teams during the fall season. These players have achieved many regional and national awards and will attend some of the top universities across the country.

Wildcats Head Soccer Coach Mike McLaughlin, who has guided his state and nationally acclaimed program to five state championships and two national titles, has been chosen as an Honorary Coach for the game. Mike enters Saturday's regional finals with 328 career victories and an amazing 84-14 record in the OHSAA postseason.

The High School All-American Game is being held the same weekend and in the same proximity as the men’s NCAA Division I College Cup.  The participants will arrive on Thursday, December 11th and will attend the NCAA semi-final games on December 12th as well as the championship game on December 14th. The event is being sponsored in part by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Adidas, Unicosports, and Soccer.com

Wildcat Soccer takes care of Massillon Jackson in Regional Semifinal to advance in OHSAA Playoffs
10/30/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October/November 2014

Ravenna, Ohio With the victory, Coach Mike McLaughlin's talent-rich and solidly bonded team improves to 17-2-1 and advances to Saturday's 4 PM regional final versus Hudson (15-3-2) at a site to be announced. Saint Ignatius will be seeking its 10th regional championship under Coach McLaughlin.

The Wildcats defeated the Explorers from Hudson, 5-0, on Sept. 25th at Wasmer Field.

Steve Milhoan, one of the premier underclassmen in Ohio, set the tone on Gilcrest Field's blue-turfed pitch with a powerful shot that ripped into the back of the net with 18:36 remaining in the first 40 minutes. It is Steve's team-leading 14th goal on the season.

Milhoan fired another authoritative shot that bounced off the right post (goalie's left) and soccer savvy junior Hayden "Cub" Parente was right there to tap the ball home, pushing the Soccer Cats' lead to 2-0 with just under two minutes left in the first half.

In what was a display of smooth, under control footwork, senior captain and Holy Cross recruit Bobby Barsic finished strong off a picture-perfect cross from Milhoan and Saint Ignatius led, 3-0, with 19:56 to go in the second half. Bobby's finish gives him nine goals this fall.

An athletic high-post header by gifted senior captain Matt Nigro closed out the scoring with 14:29 remaining to be played, as the Cats' offense complemented what was another impressive defensive effort by the second-ranked Division  I team in the state by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association. Matt's header increased his season's goal total to 12.

The ever-present back four of  senior David Sisson, senior Jack Wiegandt, senior Dean Miller and junior Hunter Gordon, along with the shutdown skills of senior goalies Mikal Outcalt (an All-American, University of Pittsburgh recruit) and Clark Gronek (a George Mason recruit), kept the Polar Bears' offense on ice all night. Clark had three active stops in the final 7 minutes-plus.   

Massillon Jackson closed its season at 9-8-3.

After the Soccer Cats gathered with their coaches and their faithful student body support to sing the Alma Mater, Bobby Barsic and Steve Milhoan emphasized to this corner that the success the team is enjoying is as much about the solid chemistry off the pitch as it is the play on it. And Coach McLaughlin couldn't agree more.

"You hope as the season progresses that your group forms into a team," said Coach McLaughlin, who has led his alma mater to five state championships, two national titles and what are now 328 career victories. Mike is currently in his 20th season as the head of Saint Ignatius' soccer program and he enters Saturday's regional final with an OHSAA postseason record of 84-14.

"Through the trips we've taken, through the hard games we've played against some of the best competition in the state, what has developed is a team," Coach McLaughlin continued. "It's a group of guys who battle for each other, have a sense of where each other are and what people are doing on the field. Once you start doing things as a group of 11, then you really have a chance to do something special."

FOR THE DEFENSE:  "That's really what it takes to go far," said Coach McLaughlin of his defense, especially the back four we referred to earlier in the story. "You have to have a group of guys in the back that are men. They're hard to get around and hard to get past. You have to make sure the defense keeps showing up. That's the key."

The corner wishes to express its thanks to Ohio High School Athletic Association Commissioner Dr. Daniel B. Ross for taking out the time to be Wednesday night's halftime guest for Saint Ignatius' outstanding broadcasting threesome of Carter Spearry, James Zajaczkowski and Dylan McKeon (the Wildcats' standout hockey goalie), and their Moderator, Mr. Jeff McCormick '83.

I really enjoyed the on the air conversation Dylan had with Dr. Ross concerning last March's highly publicized (both locally and nationally), seven overtime state championship hockey game between Saint Ignatius and Sylvania Northview, where the game was called after the seventh OT tied at 1-1 and both teams were declared state champions.     

No shootout this year! Wildcats defeat Saint Edward with a 3-0 win in District Final
10/26/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

From Krenzler Field on the Campus of Cleveland State University: Coach Mike McLaughlin's Soccer Cats, the top seed at their Division I Sectional/District, rode goals by the gifted Lawrence Karpeh, the multi skilled Bobby Barsic and the unsung John Duldner to what was a sweet and emotional victory over the Eagles, the team that had eliminated them in the district finals the past two seasons on PKs.

Playing for Jim Skerl '74, who lost a long and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer on Thursday at the age of 58, the Wildcats improved to 16-2-1 and advanced to Wednesday's 7 PM Regional Semifinal match up with the Polar Bears from Massillon Jackson in Ravenna Stadium.

Coach Jim Duffy's St. Edward Eagles closed another successful season at 11-4-4.  

Jim Skerl, who lived his life for others, taught Theology at Saint Ignatius for 36 years. He was a mentor and an inspiration to so many of the young lives he touched and that was evident on Saturday night as the student body was in a "white out" of T-Shirts dedicated to "Mr. Skerl." The Soccer Cats also wore the special pregame warm up T-Shirts that they had made in honor of their greatest fan and beloved teacher.

"Jim was literally behind this team," said Coach McLaughlin '85. "For the last 10 years he stood behind us (on a milk cart) along the fence (at Wasmer Field). These boys know it and they feel it that he's behind us still and that his love for them is something that is going to be with them for the rest of their lives, helping them to do great things like he did."

HERE ARE THE CORNER'S TAKES ON SATURDAY NIGHT'S EMOTIONAL AND TRUE TEAM VICTORY, AS COACH MCLAUGHLIN AND HIS WLDCATS WILL BE SEEKING A 10th REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN WHAT IS CURRENTLY MIKE'S 20TH SEASON AS THE HEAD OF HIS ALMA MATER'S HIGHLY SUCCESFUL PROGRAM AND, OF COURSE, WHAT WOULD BE A RECORD SIXTH BOYS STATE SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP.

The ever-present junior Lawrence Karpeh, the pride of Saint Ignatius of Antioch elementary school: "This is great, I've always dreamed of beating St. Eds since sixth, seventh grade," said Lawrence, who scored the Cats' first goal with the match up barley three minutes old. "I used to come see Saint Ignatius play when I was little. I wanted to have that feeling of beating St. Eds. After losing two years in a row (in the PK shootouts), it was heartbreaking. I went home crying. We finally beat them, and I know we're a better team than them, it's the best feeling ever. I don't know what to say, I'm speechless."

Speechless, but oh so limitlessly talented on the soccer pitch.

"I saw the ball coming, I saw it in the air," said Lawrence of his tone setting shot. "I just made the run, took a touch to it and the goalie (Alex) Dudley came towards me. It was like slow motion. I hit it in the bottom corner, put my hands in the air and pointed to God. He's the best."

"We just have to work as a team, nobody can be selfish," Lawrence continued in reference to the ultimate goal of a sixth state title for the program. "We have great individual players, but if we work together and pass the ball, we can win easily."

The emergence of junior John Duldner: "I feel like I have to bring defensive support and once we win the ball, I have to push up and help offensively, too." Duldner said. "But once we lose (possession), I have to get my butt back and fight for the ball, winning he balls in there and then distribute. Sometimes it's hard to see how it impacts the game, but in the play of things, it's really important. "

Amen to that.

Duldner also put his footwork and offensive tools on display in the second half, scoring he Cats' third and final goal after senior captain Bobby Barsic made it a 2-0 game by blasting home the ball with 4:48 left in the first half.

"I'm not supposed to go into the corners, like the box," said Duldner, who made it 3-0 with three minutes and 41 seconds gone in the second half. "But the ball popped out, I saw it, I knew where it was going, hit it and goal."

Goal indeed, in fact it was John's second on the season after being promoted from the junior varsity.

"They're good," said Duldner of St. Edward, "but we wanted revenge. The team I'm on isn't just any team. We have chemistry and we're brothers out there. If anything happens to any of us, we're there. We've got each other's back. We're a great team."

From All -American senior goalie and University of Pittsburgh recruit Mikal Outcalt: "I'm still sitting here trying to think straight," Mikal said. "I'm so happy just to be part of this team. This team is something special and we were here tonight to prove that. We wanted to dominate and we did that.

"Mr. Skerl is up there with the best of the best people in this world," Mikal continued. "Everyone here who knew him respected him to the max. There is no man I loved more at this school than Mr. Skerl. He was just one of those guys that the moment you met him, you fell in love with his character and personality. You just wanted to be around him. Even when he was alive and now that he's gone, he's been with us from the start and we're going to carry him with us.

"We have  to continue what we did tonight," said Mikal, a seasoned veteran who put his big-game tested and leadership skills on display from the get-go on Saturday. Mikal had five saves and Dudley, a sophomore with a promising future, saved seven shots for the Eagles. "We have to play a full 80 minutes. We're confident with the players we have. We feel we're one of the most skilled teams in the state and if we come hard for 80 minutes, there is no team that can stop us."

Some final comments from one of the finest  human beings in his professions as a teacher and a coach: "John Duldner was a starting JV for most of the season," said Coach McLaughlin, who picked up career victory 327 on Saturday night and his program's 14th District Championship. "It wasn't until about three weeks ago, that he kept working hard and now he's changed our team. Johnny Duldner has really changed the dynamic of our team. It's great having him out there and scoring a goal.

"It's been a long week for everybody," Coach McLaughlin said. "This game (versus St. Edward) requires a lot of energy. And so I'm proud that we were able to have the energy required to be the best team out here tonight. I'm proud that we defended well, I'm proud that we scored goals, I'm proud that we had a shutout. This, in a lot of ways, is more than a soccer game. Every time we play them it becomes more than a soccer game. I'm just glad we were able to take care of business on the field and that we're moving on. That's what pleases me the most." 

Wildcats reach District Final with over Brecksville-Broadview Heights
10/23/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

FROM WASMER FIELD: The top seeded Cats took the sting out of the Bees from the get go, as Matt Nigro scored off an assist from sophomore Steve Milhoan with the match not six minutes old. The same combination clicked with just under 24 minutes remaining in the first half.

Nigro's Hat Trick with 13:21 remaining in the first 40 minutes and the first of two authoritative shots by Milhoan had the Cats purring to the tune of a 4-0 lead at halftime.

Milhoan's second scoring blast in the final fifteen-plus minutes of the second half completed the five-goal blanking of Brecksville-Broadview Heights and advanced Saint Ignatius into its 20th consecutive District Final in what is Coach Mike McLaughlin's 20th season as the head of his alma mater's highly successful soccer program.

The Cats (15-2-1) , seeded No. 1 at the University Heights District, will face West Side rival St. Edward (11-3-4) in Saturday's 7 PM District Championship match up on Wasmer Field.

St. Edward, which rode Julian Castro's goal to a "sudden victory" over Normandy in Wednesday night's District Semifinal at the Eagles' Coughlin Field, has won the last two District Final encounters with the Wildcats (in 2012 and 2013), with both of those matches decided on PKs.

The Wildcats and the Eagles played to a 1-1 tie during a regular season match up on Sept. 17 at the pitch on Coughlin Field.

*HERE ARE THE CORNER'S TAKES FROM WHAT IS COACH MCLAUGHLIN'S 326th CAREER VICTORY AND HIS 82nd VICTORY IN 96 POSTSEASON GAMES.

A YOUNG MAN WHO TRULY EPTIOMIZES THE CLASS AND TALENT THAT EXUDE FROM SAINT IGNATIUS' SOCCER PROGRAM: After he produced the first hat trick in his standout varsity soccer career, the amiable, but always humble Matt Nigro said he had two goals in a game before, but that it wasn't on a stage like the three goals he produced in Wednesday night's 5-0, District Semifinal victory over Brecksville-Broadview Heights. "It's a great feeling," he said.

"We have so many weapons and Lawrence is an unbelievable weapon," said Nigro of the Wildcats' outstanding junior forward Lawrence Karpeh. "Lawrence attracts so many defenders it allows wingers like me, Bobby Barsic and Stephen Milhoan to get more of the attention, because he attracts so many defenders for us. There is not a weakness to our offense."

As for his first goal on the night, Nigro emphasized that he got a "beautiful ball from Milhoan" and his job was to take a touch.

"I saw the goalie shifted his weight  and I went near post," Nigro said. "The second goal was also a beautiful ball from Milhoan and I sneaked around near post and just poked it past the keeper." Nigro's second goal came as he was sliding on the Wasmer  Field turf.

"On the third goal, my year round teammate Bobby Barsic, a senior captain with me, made eye contact with me and we knew what we wanted to do," Nigro continued. "Bobby played me through, I looked up and opened my body on first touch.

"To be honest with you, when this team is at its lowest, that's when we step it up," said Nigro. "When we lost  2-0 to Copley (on Sept. 20th on Wasmer Field), we didn't dig down, we dug up. We play best in our games when we know we have to. And now we know we have to prove something and we're not going to stop."

Note: Copley and Saint Ignatius finished first and second, respectively, in the final Division I state poll by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.

FROM COACH MCLAUGHLIN: "The guys know what's on the line from here on out," said the man who has coached his state and nationally acclaimed program to five state championships, a state runner up, nine regional championships, 13 district titles and two national championships. "We've worked hard all season and it's been a great, tight knit group all season. These guys know what they're capable of. Tonight, they put it out on the field."

THE MATCH UP THEY WANTED: As the Wildcats and the Bees were going through their postgame handshake, it was learned that St. Edward and Normandy were entering overtime in their district semifinal match.

You could see in their every expression that Coach McLaughlin and his Wildcats were not thrilled with that news.

"Yes, I want to play St. Eds," Coach McLaughlin said without any hesitation.

IN GOAL: Saint Ignatius got two saves each from its outstanding keeper twosome of seniors Mikal Outcalt and Clark Gronek and it would be remiss not to mention the effort of Bees' backup goalie Russell Slifcak, who came up with seven saves in the second half off some exceptional efforts. The Bees ended their season with 7 victories, 9 defeats and 2 ties.  

Congratulations to Junior Varsity Head Coach and Varsity Assistant Coach Jim Brennan '85 on being named Greater Cleveland Assistant Soccer Coach of the Year!
10/21/2014
Varsity Wildcat Soccer 2014
10/20/2014

Varsity Soccer defeats Lincoln West 6-1 in Sectional Final, faces Brecksville-Broadview Heights in District Semifinal on Wednesday
10/19/2014
Varsity Soccer prevails over Gahanna Lincoln in regular season finale; Now on to the playoffs!
10/12/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Playing for their inspiration, teacher and great friend of Coach Mike McLaughlin's state and nationally acclaimed program, Mr. Jim Skerl '74, the Soccer Cats overcame an early 1/0 deficit and treated Mr. Skerl, who is ill but was still on hand at Wasmer Field, to the dramatic victory over one of Ohio's tradition rich programs.

In dedicating their efforts to Mr. Skerl, the Cats stormed back behind goals by gifted junior forward Lawrence Karpeh, multi skilled senior Matt Nigro, whose goal off a cross from sophomore Steve Milhoan gave Saint Ignatius a 2/1 lead at the 11 minute mark of the first half, and Milhoan, one of the top underclassmen in the state, who made it 3/1 with 2 minutes remaining in the first half.

Saint Ignatius closes out another outstanding and demanding regular season at 13/2/1 and will now gear up for the University Heights Division I Sectional/District, where the Cats are seeded No. 1 (see the corner's post from Friday).

Coach McLaughlin's team is scheduled to begin postseason play in a sectional final on Oct. 18 at Wasmer Field. The Cats will play the winner of the sectional semifinal between Max Hayes and Lincoln West. The Oct. 18 match up is, as of now, slated for 7 PM.    

Wildcat Soccer will have a number one seed to begin the postseason
10/5/2014
Varsity Soccer sweeps the weekend trip to St. Louis with a win over South Kent Prep School on Sunday
10/5/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Standout senior Boby Barsic scores off a PK, Steve Milhoan, one of Ohio's premier sophomores, produces his second goal on the weekend and senior Mikal Outcalt provides the shutout in goal as Coach Mike McLaughlin's Wildcats improve to 12/2/1 by winning both of their games in one of the nation's premier high school soccer events (see the corner's post from Saturday night).

The Soccer Cats will close out their regular season by hosting Gahanna Lincoln on Saturday at 2 PM on the pitch at Wasmer Field

Wildcat Soccer takes game one in Gateway City Soccer Classic over St. John Vianney
10/4/2014

Posted by Brendan DeVenney '17

With a long bus ride to the city of St. Louis, Missouri, Coach McLaughlin's Wildcats were set to face some high quality competition in the 10th Annual Gateway City Soccer Classic.

Playing in the "Showcase Bracket", Saint Ignatius went up against the St. John Vianney Griffins from St. Louis, Missouri. The Griffins earlier in the day on Saturday faced Rock Bridge, who defeated Saint Ignatius last year, and defeated the Bruins 2-0. The Griffins you could say looked fatigued as the Wildcats came out on top winning 3-1

The Wildcats came right out of the gate and scored all three of their goals in the first half. 

At the ninth minute it was sophomore Stephen Milhoan putting the Wildcats on the board and in the lead. Then at the twenty-eighth minute, senior Matt Nigro increased the Wildcats lead making it 2-0. And then at the fourtieth minute, senior Jack Wiegandt gave Saint Ignatius a comfortable cushion with a 3-0 lead.

The Griffins only goal of the game came in the second half at the twenty-first minute.

The final would be 3-1 in favor of Saint Ignatius. The Wildcats go up against South Kent High School from Connecticut tomorrow in the Gateway City Soccer Classic. The Cardinals defeated Rock Bridge on Friday.  

Varsity Soccer gets win number ten at ALHS's Memorial Stadium by defeating the Shoremen
9/30/2014

BY EDDIE DWYER

Tuesday's shutout victory, which upped the Cats' season record to 10/2/1, was keyed by goals from senior standouts Bobby Barsic and Matt Nigro, along with some solid efforts in goal by senior Clark Gronek.

Barsic scored off a smooth pass from sophomore Steve Milhoan and one of those patent corners by savvy junior Hayden Parente led to Nigro's goal.

The overall victory total for the Saint Ignatius Soccer Program stands at five hundred and twenty one in what is now the 39th season of Wildcats soccer. That overall mark includes 128 defeats and eighty six ties.

Mike McLaughlin, in what is his 20th season as the head soccer coach at his alma mater, now has 321 career victories with five of them being Division I state championships. Coach McLaughlin has also guided his Soccer Cats to two national titles, a state runner up and nine state final fours.

Up next for the Cats is this weekend's Gateway City Soccer Classic in St. Louis. 

Wildcats knock off another top ranked team in Powell Olentangy Liberty on Saturday
9/28/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Coach Mike McLaughlin's Soccer Cats, after handing previously unbeaten Hudson its first loss on Thursday night at Wasmer Field, capped off a big week by defeating another of the state's best in Division I, Powell Olentangy Liberty, 3/1, at Olentangy Liberty on Saturday afternoon.

Olentangy Liberty and Hudson were ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, in this week's Division I state poll by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.

Saint Ignatius, Ohio's third ranked program, improved to 9/2/1 behind a goal by savvy at both ends of the pitch Matt Nigro, and two net finders by gifted junior forward Lawrence Karpeh.

Up next for the Soccer Cats is Tuesday's trip to the pitch at Avon Lake to face the Shoremen at 7 PM.

 

Varsity Soccer 'Cats knock off previously unbeaten Hudson on Wasmer Field Thursday
9/26/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Ohio City: When Coach Mike McLaughlin's nationally and state-wide acclaimed Saint Ignatius Varsity Soccer Program is at the top of its game, it is a beautiful thing to watch.

In what was a perfect fall night on Cleveland's near West Side, the state's third-ranked Wildcats played to near perfection Thursday in handing Ohio's seventh-ranked Hudson Explorers their first setback of the season, five goals to zero, on the pitch at Saint Ignatius' Wasmer Field.

The Wildcats, who have been outshooting their opponents on a consistent basis, only to see the ball shy away from the back of the net, improved to 8-2-1. Hudson, which was coming off an impressive victory at Strongsville, stands 10-1-2.

"In a lot of ways this was many of the same things we've been doing all season," said Coach McLaughlin, who has guided his alma mater to a record five boys Division I state championships. "But the difference is, we finished our chances. This (Hudson) was a good team, a top 10 team in the state coming in and we shutout them out, which is huge. One of the top players in the state is their forward Trevor Colazzo and they had only three shots on goal the whole game.

"I'm really pleased with how our defense played," Coach McLaughlin continued. "The most important goal is the first goal because it wasn't beautiful, it was just fight and scrapping, and that is what has been missing."

The Wildcats, who will travel to Olentangy Liberty on Saturday to take on Ohio's sixth-ranked Division I team (1 PM JV, 3 PM Varsity), took a 1-0 lead when the ever present JoeMack Leonardo got the best of a flurry in front of the net and sent home the goal with the match up not seven minutes old.

Saint Ignatius' defense made sure JoeMack's goal held up for the first 40 minutes by enabling the Cats' offense to maintain a possession pressure attack.

Hudson's defense, which has also been solid from the get-go this season, had a lot do with keeping it a one-goal game heading into the second half.

But then came the offensive eruption that Wildcats fans have been patiently awaiting.

Scoring three of its four second half goals in a span of sixteen minutes, Saint Ignatius knocked the Explorers off course and had Hudson's defense on its heels the rest of the way.

"It means a lot, the last few games (a tie with St. Edward and a loss to top ranked Copley) have been very frustrating," said Wildcats standout senior Bobby Barsic, who fueled the second half fire with the first of his two goals on the night - a header off a corner cross by soccer savvy junior Hayden Parente. "We've been strong defensively, but our offense has just struggled to put shots in the back of the net. Tonight, we were able to pull it off. I mean five goals against one of the best teams in the state is pretty awesome."  

And describing Saint Ignatius' play over the final 40 minutes as awesome if far from a stretch.

The Wildcats, who made the most of their 14 shots on goal, scored their third goal off a great display of defense, speed, athleticism and power by gifted junior forward Lawrence Karpeh. It was a crowd pleaser by Lawrence, to say the least. Or, as Coach McLaughlin put it, "That's what he does."

"To be honest, I think we have one of the best defenses in the country," said Karpeh, who has the ability to fire up the faithful with his special God-given talents. "It was time for the forwards to show the defense we appreciate all of the hard work it has put in, show them what we can do also.

"The defense did a great job of encouraging us," Karpeh continued. "I think it's (the offense) here now, we just have to be consistent. We have to find a way to score goals, no excuses."

Steve Milhoan, one of the top sophomores in Ohio and one of the Cats who has been consistent offensively, capped the three goals in sixteen minutes with an authoritative tap in from the left side of the net and Saint Ignatius added the five bagger on Barsic's second goal off an assist from senior Dean Miller with just over 18 minutes remaining to be played.

Senior goalies Mikal Outcalt and Clark Gronek, two of the best in the state at their position, combined on the shutout.

****Coach Jim Brennan's junior varsity program improved to 11-0 with a 3-1 victory over Hudson's jayvees. The goal by the Explorers was the first one the JV Cats have yielded all season.

 

Top ranked Copley too much for Saint Ignatius, Wildcats fall to 7-2-1
9/21/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Copley, the No. 1 ranked team in this past week's Division I state poll by the Ohio High School Soccer Coaches Association, defeated third ranked Saint Ignatius, 2/0, on Wasmer Field Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats now stand 7/2/1 on the season and Copley improves to 10/0/1.

Up next for the Varsity Soccer Cats is Thursday night's match up with the Hudson Explorers on Wasmer Field. The 8 PM varsity match will be preceded by a six bells junior varsity game.

Wildcats are dealt their first draw of the season at Coughlin Field versus the Eagles
9/18/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Lakewood, Ohio: The Varsity Wildcats, who are tied for third with Beavercreek in the latest Division I state poll by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association, yielded a goal to St. Edward's senior midfielder Collin Richards off an assist from senior midfielder/forward Julian Castro with 28 minutes and five seconds remaining in the first half.

Saint Ignatius would come back to tie the score on a picture perfect header by senior standout Matt Nigro off a corner from savvy junior Hayden Parente with five minutes and 21 seconds left in the first 40 minutes.

Although the Wildcats, who now own 7 victories, a loss and a tie on the season, controlled most of the game, the state's ninth ranked Eagles found a way to protect their pitch at Coughlin Field. St. Edward currently has five victories, a loss and three ties on its 2014 slate.

The Eagles of Coach Jim Duffy got a solid performance in goal from sophomore Alex Dudley, who made seven saves, including three exceptional diving efforts.

Wednesday night's match up marked the second consecutive year that the Cats and the Eagles played to a tie in their annual regular season encounter. Last fall on Wasmer Field, the regular season tilt ended in a 2/2 tie. The teams would meet again in the district finals with St. Edward, as it did in 2012, defeating Saint Ignatius in a shootout format, 2/1.

*HERE IS A LOOK AT WHAT WAS ANOTHER CHAPTER IN THE STORIED WEST SIDE RIVALRY, INCLUDING COMMENTS FROM SAINT IGNATIUS' OUTSTANDING HEAD COACH MIKE MCLAUGHLIN.

After his Wildcats got the better of the final 28 minutes of the first half and the majority of the second half, Saint Ignatius' nationally recognized Head Varsity Soccer Coach Mike McLaughlin said his Cats are still learning who they are as a team.

"Every time we play we're trying to put our stamp on the game," said Coach McLaughlin after Wednesday night's spirited 1 all tie against rival St. Edward on the Eagles' home pitch. "We did, it's just that scoring goals is hard.

"I think we controlled what we wanted to control," Coach McLaughlin continued. "We gave up an early goal and we solved that. These guys are learning what it takes to win as we get into October and November. I'm proud that we were able to come back a goal down. Anytime you come here (the Eagles' Coughlin Field) there is so much emotion involved. We talked all week about staying calm in the midst of a storm and doing what we wanted to do. And we did it.

"You have to put the ball in the back of the net, that will take us to the next level," added the man who has led his program to five OHSAA state championships and two NSCAA national titles. "But we're getting better every time we play and tonight was another step in the right direction."

Coach McLaughlin described Wednesday night's emotional and physical match up with the Eagles as his team's first real test of the season. And that includes the annual Jesuit Cup Tournament, where the Wildcats experienced their only loss thus far, 1/0 to Cincinnati St. Xavier.

"When you get later in the playoffs there is so much emotion that they never felt before until they are in it," said Coach McLaughlin. "And they got to feel it tonight. They handled it and now they realize they can play through it."

The special atmosphere on Coughlin Field started with a pregame prayer, followed by the National Anthem. The starting lineups for each team then took the pitch escorted by the sounds of a bagpipe threesome that included Saint Ignatius' highly successful Head Junior Varsity Coach Jim Brennan.

From there, the play of two of the state's best and the battle of the student bodies provided plenty of entertainment for all of the faithful in attendance.

Speaking of Coach Brennan, his undefeated JV Cats scored the first of their seven goals on an exceptional display of footwork, followed by an authoritative shot, by gifted sophomore Johnny Vrablic with 29 seconds remaining in the first half.

It was Katy Bar The Door in the second half, as Saint Ignatius scored six more times en route to the shutout victory. The JV Cats have now outscored St. Edward's jayvees by a combined total of 13/0 in their past two match ups.

Providing the offense in the second half were Adam Collins, who fired home a score that rattled the crossbar, sophomore Richie Holzheimer, who accounted for the third goal off a nice ball by Vrablic, Vrablic, who delivered again with just under 20 minutes left to be played, and sophomores Jon Popa (two goals) and Tommy Hogan.

Up next for the Varsity Soccer Cats is Saturday's match up with the state's top ranked Copley Indians on Wasmer Field. The 3 PM varsity game will be preceded by a 1 PM JV game.      

        

 

TONIGHT! SAINT IGNATIUS vs. SAINT EDWARD #BeatED #WILDCATSOCCER
9/17/2014

vs. 

An impressive outing by all the Wildcats led to a win over Chardon
9/14/2014

Posted by Brendan DeVenney '17

Heading in with a 6-1 record, the Wildcats had to take care of business all the way out in Chardon against the Hilltoppers at Chardon Memorial Field. 

It wasn't much of an exciting game. In the end Saint Ignatius overpowered the Hilltoppers with an 8-0 victory. The Soccer 'Cats move to 7-1-0 on the year, while Chardon falls to 2-5-1.

Goals came from Stephen Milhoan, Matt Nigro, Riley Houde, Nicholas Malik, two frrom Joseph Leonardo, and also scoring two was Bobby Barsic. 

Wildcats goalkeeper Mikal Outcalt only needed one save on the day, as the Saint Ignatius offense took care of the rest. In the secind half, Jonathan Gronek came in the goal.

It was a big win for the Wildcats, but next up is rival Saint Edward on Wednesday night on the Eagles' Coughlin Field in Lakewood. Saint Edward is coming in with a 5-1-2 record and coming off a 1-1 tie with Solon. 

Despite torrential downpour, Wildcats find a way to defeat Kenston on Wasmer Field
9/11/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit, September 2014

OHIO CITY: The goals by seniors Nick Malik and Matt Nigro came during the first half of Wednesday night's matchup with the Bombers.

With both teams battling a swirling rain that was so persistent and heavy at times that it hampered the players' vision in the second half, Coach Mike McLaughlin's Soccer Cats won for the sixth time in seven outings this season and picked up their fourth consecutive victory. Coach McLaughlin now has 317 career wins in what is Mike's 20th season as the head of his alma mater's soccer program.

The Wildcats' only setback this season came during the annual Jesuit Cup, a one goal victory by Cincinnati St. Xavier on August 23.

Kenston, which represented itself well on the Wasmer pitch, lost for just the second time in seven games. The Bombers also have a tie.

Coach Jim Brennan's Junior Varsity Wildcats remained unbeaten with a five goal shutout over Kenston's jayvees. The JV matchup was shortened because of the weather forecast, a forecast that resulted in the varsity game starting forty five minutes earlier that its scheduled 8 PM start.

In case you are wondering, what was a persistent rain turned into an outright visibility hampering downpour on the commute home.

Up next for the Soccer Cats is Saturday's trip to Chardon (1 PM JV, 3 PM Varsity) and the always highly anticipated encounter with St. Edward next Wednesday in the Eagles' pitch on Coughlin Field (Six Bells for the Jayvees and 8 PM for the Varsity).

As for tonight's victory over Kenston in a drenched Ohio City, Coach McLaughlin described it to his Wildcats as probably the best soccer they have played this season.

Controlling the time of possession throughout most of the first half, Saint Ignatius had a header by Nigro off an outstanding cross by senior JoeMack Leonardo wiped out by a penalty.

Kenston, which did a nice job early on with its defense in and around the box, scored the first goal of the night on an alert tap in by senior Harry Vossler with 22 minutes and 39 seconds remaining in the first half.

Keeping their composure, the Wildcats knotted the score on a hustle goal by Malik that went off the left post (the goalie's right) and made itself comfortable in the net with just over fifteen minutes left in the first 40 minutes.

"I've spent three years in this program and to just finally get that goal to tie it up in a big game like this, it means the world to me," said Malik of his first varsity career goal. "It was a cross off the side and then it got kicked up in the air and I just thought no one's in front of me, so I just went after it. I just kind of closed my eyes and headed it in."

With the first half approaching the 8 minute mark, Nigro fired home his difference maker on an authoritative shot from the left side.

"I was sprinting up the left wing and was trying to read the defender on a missed skip ball," Nigro said. "The ball bounced to me and I was able to kick it to the back of the net. It was a lucky ball, but I'll take it."

Saint Ignatius, which in its six victories has outscored its opponents by a total of 12 goals to 2, let its defense and the goalkeeping of University of Pittsburgh recruit Mikal Outcalt do the rest. Mikal handled two free kicks and made a save you have come to expect from one of the top keepers in the Midwest.

The Wildcats' defense, which has allowed just three goals in seven matches, including one in the loss to St. Xavier, turned away everything thrown its way in the final 40 minutes, including Mother Nature's wrath.

With the halfway mark of the regular season on the doorstep and the OHSAA post season just around the corner, Nigro and Malik laid it right on the line as to what the Soccer Cats have to do in order to achieve a record sixth boys soccer state championship.

"Stay strong on defense and finish our chances," said two young men who exude the class that has always gone hand in hand with Coach McLaughlin's nationally acclaimed program.

  

Stephen Milhoan's goal lifts Saint Ignatius over Twinsburg
9/7/2014

Posted by Brendan DeVenney '17

In what was an evenly fought match, the Wildcats and Tigers were neck and neck for two full halves. Until with seconds to spare, the Twinsburg goalie gave in and sophomore Stephen Milhoan put the Wildcats on top for a 1-0 win. 

Saint Ignatius gets back at it on Wednesday when they welcome Kenston for an 8:00 match on Wasmer Field.

Wildcats bounce back to defeat the Titans in consolation match in the Jesuit Cup
8/25/2014

Coach Mike McLaughlin's Wildcats have now won three of their first four varsity matches on the season, with all three victories coming by a shutout. The only setback came on Saturday to the Bombers from St. Xavier (see post below).

Saint Ignatius will now gear up for Wednesday's match against Padua Franciscan High School on the Bruins' home pitch. Padua has a loss and a tie in two matches this young season, losing to the Bay Rockets, 8 goals to 1, and tying the Green Wave of Holy Name, 3 all.

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

 

Wildcats fall to Saint Xavier in first round of Jesuit Cup
8/24/2014

The nationally ranked 'Cats were defeated 1 goal to 0 on the pitch at Toledo St.  John's Jesuit High School. Saint Ignatius will face the Titans from St. John's on Sunday at 1 PM.

Eddie Dwyer

Varsity, Junior Varsity take down the Mustangs
8/20/2014

COACH MIKE MCLAUGHLIN'S WILDCATS, WHO WERE COMING OFF A SOLID THREE GOAL VICTORY OVER SOLON IN THE SEASON OPENER, WILL NOW GEAR UP FOR SATURDAY'S 3 PM MATCH UP WITH THE BOMBERS FROM CINCINNATI ST. XAVIER IN THE ANNUAL JESUIT CUP, WHICH THIS YEAR IS BEING HELD AT TOLEDO ST. JOHN'S JESUIT.

Eddie Dwyer

HERE ARE THE SUMMARIES OF BOTH THE JUNIOR VARSITY AND VARSITY GAMES, COURTESY OF THE WILDCATS' OUTSTANDING ASSISTANT COACH JOE POPELKA

JUNIOR VARSITY

Saint Ignatius 4, Strongsville 0

The JV Cats opened the scoring on a John Duldner header off a corner kick, with the assist from Adam Collins.

After a spirited run down the right side of the Mustang defense, Richie Holzheimer centered a pass that was struck home with authority by John Vrablic.

That ended the scoring for the 1st half.
 
The second half scoring began with a break-away goal by Alex Gotsky and the scoring ended with a 35 yard strike by Pat Strauss-a crowd pleasing goal with the assist credited to John Popa.
 
Goalies Lodge Dils and Max Heath shared in the shutout.
 
VARSITY
 
The game ended early with 13:44 remaining on the clock as the skies lit up at Foltz Field.
 
After a scorless first half, Steve Milhoan had the only goal with 34:50 to go in the second half--a long range drive over the arms of the keeper.
 
Saint Ignatius outshot the Mustangs, 13-2. 
 
The Wildcats got solid defensive work from Hunter Gordon, Jack Wiegandt, Matt Nigro, and Dean Miller.
Mikal Outcalt recorded the shutout, as he only had to make 1 save against his home town team.
 
Captain Bobby Barsic returned from injury, but Captain David Sisson (slight concussion) still remains sidelined.
 
Coach McLaughlin's Wildcats open season with a big win over Solon
8/17/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2014

Ohio City: The savvy Steve Milhoan scores the first goal of the 'Cats' 2014 season, Jack Wiegandt tallies his first varsity goal and the quick and athletic Lawrence Karpeh sends home a left footer for Saint Ignatius' third goal.

The shutout in goal goes to standout senior and George Mason recruit Clark Gronek, as the Wildcats' three center back defense and overall pressure were a bit too much for a talented Solon team.

Coach Mike McLaughlin picks up his 312th career victory in what is now his 20th season as the head of the Wildcats' nationally recognized soccer program. The triumph over the Comets was also Mike's 232nd regular season victory at his alma mater.

Here is a full story on the Soccer Cats' impressive performance, along with some varsity football news.

WASMER FIELD: Okay, it was just game one.

That said, Saint Ignatius, ranked third in the Preseason Fab Fifty ESPN RISE National Rankings, left an impression on its highly successful head coach Mike McLaughlin by shutting down what is always a very sound Solon soccer team, three zip, in Saturday's season opener for both teams.

"In the beginning part of the season, you need to dominate defensively," Coach McLaughlin said. "Things aren't fine tuned in the front third or with your offense yet. It takes weeks to get that sorted out. As a team, we have to focus on making sure that we defend hard everywhere on the field, that everyone's defending hard the moment we lose the ball. If we can defend hard and win the fifty/fifty balls, then we have a chance, we're going to be in games.

"I was really pleased with our defensive energy all over the field," Coach McLaughlin continued. "We have a bunch of creative skilled players and we'll have chances to score. The more they combine with each other, the more chances we'll have moving forward."

The three center back defense, which puts a lot of defensive responsibility on the wings or wing backs, does, said Coach McLaughlin, open up more opportunities for the Wildcats at the center of the field and up top.

Coach McLaughlin also pointed out that his team faced the Comets without two of his standouts, senior defender, captain and Davidson recruit David Sisson (slight concussion) and senior midfielder, captain and Holy Cross recruit Bobby Barsic (sore ankle).  

With its defense leading to a dominate possession time, Saint Ignatius scored its first goal on a rebound shot by sophomore midfielder Steve Milhoan with just over 11 minutes remaining in the first half and went up by two goals when senior defender Jack Wiegandt tapped in a rebound with just twenty six seconds remaining in the first half.

Credit Solon's disciplined defense for keeping the game scoreless for nearly 29 minutes.

"Lawrence (Wildcats standout junior forward Lawrence Karpeh) knocked it off the keeper and I just happened to be there," said the humble Milhoan, who is one of the top underclassmen in the area.

"Steve (Milhoan) hit the corner in, crossed it in and me and JoeMack (talented senior forward JoeMack Leonardo) were rushing near post," said Wiegandt of his goal. "I think JoeMack hit the goalie and I just tapped in on it."

Wiegandt added that he was aware his goal was the first of his varsity career.

Despite some strong efforts by Comets goalie Will Meyer, Saint Ignatius added a third goal in the late going when the strong and quick Karpeh delivered a smooth left footer off an assist from sophomore forward Riley Houde.

Getting back to the 'Cats' defense, Saint Ignatius' outstanding assistant coach, Joe Popelka, pointed out that it was big game tested junior midfielder Hayden Parente who took a header by the Comets off line and saved it. Hayden's effort preserved the shutout.

The Wildcats had 20 shots on goal and Solon had four.

"With the three in the back, it gives us more opportunities to score," Milhoan said of Saint Ignatius' new look defensively. "It gives us more chances, it's a positive."

Wiegandt, who is also a mainstay for Coach Pat O'Rourke's state and nationally recognized ice hockey program, concurs with Milhoan.

"It opens up the field more and gives the three in the back more room, more options to pass it up and allow us to attack the goal," said Wiegandt, who was an Assistant Captain on Saint Ignatius' 2014 State Champion Hockey Team.

"We have to keep the communication up, keep talking out there and keep the pressure up," Wiegandt continued in reference to the Wildcats' goal of a record sixth boys state soccer championship. "We can't let up. For all eighty minutes, just go hard."

And Milhoan couldn't agree more.

"Get our fitness level up a little bit near the end of the game, be a little more organized up top before we score and don't rush it," Milhoan said.

Up next for the Soccer Cats is Tuesday's trip to Strongsville to face the always well schooled Mustangs. Saint Ignatius senior captain and University of Pittsburgh recruit Mikal Outcalt is expected to be in goal in what is a hometown match up for Mikal.

2014 Wildcat Soccer Season Preview
8/10/2014

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT AUGUST 2014

OHIO CITY: Following a morning practice on Wasmer Field last week, Saint Ignatius' outstanding Head Soccer Coach Mike McLaughlin reflected on the past two seasons and the role those outcomes could play as his Wildcats gear up for their 2014 schedule.

"Sports are emotional, they're passionate," said Coach McLaughlin as he prepares for what will be his 20th season as the director of his alma mater's soccer program. "It's a passionate part of life and so I think the more bits and pieces you can attach their emotions to, to get them fired up, the better."

The emotions, or the fire in their bellies, that the 2014 Soccer Cats will carry with them is the fact that Saint Ignatius was eliminated in the district finals the past two seasons in shootouts to West Side rival St. Edward. What made last year's District Final loss (three to two in penalty kicks) on Wasmer Field tough to swallow was that a shot by Colin Cleary '14, last season's Offensive MVP, was ruled a save when in fact it was a goal. The film on the game verified Cleary's goal and the official who made the call, one of the best the state has to offer, apologized. Many of the current Wildcats describe the official who was involved in the call as being a great official and a "great guy."   

Human error is a part of all athletic competition and the above facts are by no means a discredit to the outstanding game St. Edward played on the Wildcats' home field.

"Two years in a row, going out in a shootout to St. Eds, is definitely a huge part of the motivation for everything everybody is doing," said Coach McLaughlin, who will bring a career record of 311 victories, 44 losses and 42 ties, including 80 victories in 94 post season games, five Division I state championships, a state runner up and two national titles into Saturday's season opener versus the Solon Comets on Wasmer Field. The junior varsity action will begin at 1 PM, followed by the varsity encounter at 3. Solon played the 'Cats tough in a 2013 season opener on the Comets' home field before Saint Ignatius prevailed with two goals in a shutout victory.

"We play them (St. Edward) on Sept. 17th at their place (the pitch at Coughlin Field) and we've worked hard all off season and all summer because we don't want that to happen again," Coach McLaughlin continued. "That definitely stays with you and it's (the 2014 Wildcats) a veteran led group, a lot of seniors that have been part of it. They young kids are excited, but they didn't feel as much as some of the older kids from the last couple of years."

Helping fuel that veteran leadership will be three of the finest captains in Saint Ignatius' rich soccer history, a 38 year history that has produced an overall mark of 511-126-85.

"They're amazing kids and they're great leaders on the field," said Coach McLaughlin of senior goalie Mikal Outcalt, a University Pittsburgh recruit, senior defender and Davidson recruit David Sisson and senior midfielder and Holy Cross recruit Bobby Barsic. David was the Wildcats' Most Valuable Defender in 2013 and Bobby was the 2013 Midfield MVP.

"Our best teams have been so because we've had a great group of senior leaders," Coach McLaughlin said as he prepares his Wildcats for what could be an OHSAA record sixth boys state soccer championship. "The story remains to be told, we have to see how we finish. But it's really an exciting moment right now for the program."

Talent wise, Coach McLaughlin believes he has the players at key positions who can dominate games and that his Wildcats will score "a lot of goals this season."

That confidence is also boosted by the fact Saint Ignatius has a group of savvy senior defenders and two of the premier goalies in the state in Outcalt and fellow senior Clark Gronek.

"To really go far you have to have a big time goalkeeper, and we have two, and then you have to have a solid defense and score goals," said Coach McLaughlin. "I feel we have a lot of mature kids in those positions to do that. The talent is there, now I have to see that they're committed to working every day. There is a little grind to the season when you're going every day for three months and if they show that they love to go out there every day and battle, then that's the extra piece that will take us to where we want to go."

HOW THE CAPTAINS SEE IT

MIKAL OUTCALT: "From now on whenever we play St. Eds everyone is going to remember that goal. We have a lot of returning guys, so it's pretty much no excuses. We know our goal and we've known it for awhile now. Everyone realizes what we need to do and now it's just a matter of doing it. When we were freshmen we won a state championship and as seniors we have to show these underclassmen how to get that back.

"People are doubting us after the last two years and now it's our goal to show everyone that Saint Ignatius is still a big powerhouse in the state. We have our whole backline returning, me and Clark at goalie, Dave (Sisson), Matt Nigro, Jack Wiegandt and Hunter Gordon, so we really have no changes there and we're not expecting to give up anything. And up top, in the attack part of it, pretty much anyone we put up there can do something on their own, something special.

"We have a lot of weapons and all of the younger guys are good enough to be impact players. We just need to keep talking and stay on the same page. And Lawrence (gifted junior forward Lawrence Karpeh) and JoeMack (multi skilled senior midfielder JoeMack Leonardo) have to stay healthy.  

"We're excited for it (a season in which many will regard Saint Ignatius as the team to be in the state). There's a new fire in us that hasn't been around for awhile. All summer long we've been champing at the bit to get back to practice."

BOBBY BARSIC: "With the amount of seniors we have, along with just the whole concept of us being more than a team, we're almost like a family out there, I think this year we're going to give it our all every minute and every second of every game. We don't want to even get to that situation again (overtimes, shootouts and PKs). We want to finish strong and win in regulation.

"I think we have one of the best, if not the best backline in the state. All of them are very strong players. As for our midfield, there is no question that even though Stephen (Milhoan) is just going to be a sophomore and Hayden (Parente) is just going to be a junior, we're going to be very dominant in there as well.

"Offensively, we just have to get more numbers going in the attack. Last year one or two people tried doing it on their own. We have to combine more when we get to the offensive third of the field, crossing more and getting numbers into the box."   

DAVID SISSON: "I think we're the team to beat after the heartbreak of two years of losing to your rival. For the seniors who experienced it there is not much else, it is a real motivator to go hard right from the beginning of the season. There's not much else that is as inspiring to play hard as losing emotionally. We don't want to go through that again.

"There is nothing else to blame it on, this is our (the seniors) last chance. There is a lot of fight in us. We're going to go after the fifty/fifty balls and the second and third ball. As talented as you can be, there is still the aspect of how much do you really want to win it.

"Finishing," said David when asked about an area that the deep and flexible 2014 Wildcats have to improve on. "We always have and do have good forwards, but they never took shots last year, it seemed like. When they did it was wide or something happened. We would always seem to get where we needed to get to shoot and then we wouldn't shoot. We would take another touch or do something we didn't need to. 

"Get hungry for the goals. That's how you win the games."

*For a complete look at the Wildcats' 2014 schedule, go to ignatius.edu, click on athletics and click on soccer.

Fall Soccer Tryout Information
7/23/2014

Tryouts Begin Monday, August 4.  Sophomores - Seniors from 8 - 11 a.m.  Freshman from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.  All Tryouts on Wasmer Field.

Contact Coach McLaughlin with any questions -- mmclaughlin@ignatius.edu.

Outcalt to become a Panther
5/13/2014

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius' outstanding soccer goal keeper Mikal Outcalt '15 shared with the corner on Monday night that he will be furthering his education and soccer career at the University of Pittsburgh.

Mikal, who will be entering his third season this summer as a mainstay for Coach Mike McLaughlin's state and nationally acclaimed soccer program, is not only one of the top keepers in the state, but the entire Midwest. He brings size, savvy and athleticism to his vital position.

At 6-foot-4, Mikal is also a key member of Coach Sean O'Toole's varsity basketball team as a post/forward.

The University of Pittsburgh is not only getting an exceptional student/athlete, but a standout young man as well.

Congratulations to Mikal, his family, Coach McLaughlin '85 and the entire Saint Ignatius Soccer Program.

 

 

High School Summer Team Camp
5/12/2014

High School Summer Team Camp -- for incoming freshmen - seniors CLICK HERE

Justin Morrow blooming closer to his Saint Ignatius roots
4/13/2014

Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow '05 was featured in Sunday's Cleveland Plain Dealer. He is shining in Major League Soccer with some of the nations best. 

Here is the story by Tim Warsinskey: Major League Soccer: Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow blooming closer to his St. Ignatius roots | cleveland.com

Soccer Alumn Vaughn Spurrier Still Shining
3/18/2014

Saint Ignatius alumn and former soccer player Vaughn Spurrier is shining at Temple as a soccer star, but also in the classroom. As a result he is being rewarded for his collegiate success. Read the story per American Athletic Conference here:

http://theamerican.org/news/2014/2/26/MSOC_0226143234.aspx

Saint Ignatius High School Team Camp Information
2/28/2014

Coming Soon...


July 14 - 18, 2014 at Saint Ignatius High School from 9 - 11:30 a.m.

Saint Ignatius Youth Summer Soccer Camps
2/24/2014


CLICK HERE for the registration form for the 2014 Saint Ignatius Summer Soccer Camps.   The coaching staff is excited once again to provide your child with an enjoyable and competitive summer soccer camp experience.

This summer we will be focusing on the excitement of the World Cup.  We will be sharing with the campers the traditions, language, and interesting facts of the 32 participating countries. Daily prizes will include replica World Cup jerseys, flags, and the usual Saint Ignatius wear.

We will also be spending time working on the critical elements of sportsmanship, character development, and the importance of being your best in everything you do.

Also this summer, for the first time, we will be offering an Advanced Level Camp at the July 14-18 Camp for 5th-8th graders at Saint Ignatius High School.  The camp will be staffed by Dutch National KNVB Coaches, who are coming in from Holland for the summer to work with the youth campers, as well as with the Saint Ignatius High School soccer program.  Of course the campers will also be coached by players past and present from the Saint Ignatius soccer program.