Boys Soccer: St. Ignatius out of CCS playoffs after upset loss to Leigh

Leigh defender Ryan Choi (left) cuts off St. Ignatius senior forward Aaron Gallagher on Wednesday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

The faces on the field may have been the same, but the St. Ignatius boys’ soccer team didn’t resemble the team that won the West Catholic Athletic League title just six days prior to their 2-0 loss to visiting Leigh of San Jose in the opening round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs on Wednesday.

The 12th-seeded Longhorns (11-6-4), which finished fourth in the Blossom Valley Athletic League’s Mt. Hamilton Division, controlled the pace of the game and opportunities early, while fifth-seeded St. Ignatius (15-6-2) was flat on both ends of the field, ending their season unceremoniously.

St. Ignatius senior defender Erik Mulligan (left) and Leigh senior forward Mark Salcido go to the air to make a play on a ball on Wednesday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“It was the same as last year. We get into CCS and have our worst game of the year,” St. Ignatius coach Sean-Michael Callahan said. “Their effort was just better than ours, and you can’t get this late in the season and not put everything on the field.”

The Wildcats didn’t garner a substantial opportunity in the first half, while the dynamic and quick-striking Longhorns applied significant pressure and scored in the 15th minute on a header from senior Mark Salcido off a corner kick from Thomas Murdick.

Immediately after the halftime break, the Wildcats’ struggles continued, as the Longhorns tacked on an insurance goal in the 45th minute, when senior Nick Logsdon slid to send a low crossing pass past St. Ignatius goalkeeper Rueben Young.

St. Ignatius would pick up offensively after Leigh’s second goal, going on a frantic run where they sent six shots on goal in the final 23 minutes, but the Wildcats just couldn’t break through.

“The win against Bellarmine [in the WCAL championship game] was such an emotional skyrocket,” Callahan said. “For 16-, 17-year-old kids to come back from that and try to manufacture some energy is tough.”

The Wildcats’ attack showed life late, but it was a constant struggle for the defense. Leigh’s agile midfielders pestered St. Ignatius throughout, but often it was the Wildcats’ inability to clear the ball from their half of the field that led to Longhorns opportunities.

“We were poor with possession, but it was a credit to their effort. They kept stepping in front of our guys and taking the ball away,” Callahan said. “While we weren’t playing very well, they were just playing better.”

Murdick and sophomore Josue Mendosa led the Longhorns’ midfield, distributing the ball deftly and cutting down St. Ignatius’ counter attempts with relative ease, but while the result might be unexpected to some, don’t count Leigh head coach Frank von Rassler in that category.

“To be blunt, [I expected this result],” von Rassler said. “We didn’t know anything about St. Ignatius coming in, but I know my guys. We’re going to be dangerous in this tournament because we’re a team that no one knows about. You could be an invalid and coach this team. That’s how good they are.”

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9 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    All the soccer posts are about SI this year. You didn’t even cover the SH victories over SI and the Bells.

    • jbalan says:

      From our “Support SanFranPreps.com” page: our coverage “is based on our contributors’ availability and newsworthiness.”

  2. IC Stars says:

    Well dumping SI and Bellarmine is plenty newsworthy. I don’t think it’s anything a call to the coach or AD wouldn’t cure. https://www.shcp.edu/podium/default.aspx?t=121809&rc=1

    At least we have a City team advancing in the playoffs. Irish play Harbor next on Sat. Feb. 26 at Piedmont Hills HS at 2:00pm.

  3. sfpatriot says:

    Although I partially share anonymous’s sentiment (especially re the “newsworthy!” SHCP wins over SI and Bellarmine), the coverage here is much better than in the Chronicle!

  4. IC Stars says:

    The Chronicle’s not worth it. They had better sports sections in the 1890’s.

  5. WCAL fan says:

    This site is doing a 100000% better job than the SF Chronicle which can’t even report scores.

    Amazing that a newspaper in one of the biggest markets in US has missed out on the dominating play of SF based soccer teams (SI & SH) over the past 3 years … it is no wonder the Chron teetered (and will probably once again face) bankruptcy.

    Families and youth sports are what make communities vibrant and growing … unfortunately the Chronicle is more interested in coverage of alternative lifestyles, etc …

    Keep up the good work SF Preps.

  6. annonymous says:

    Don’t hate on SF Preps anyone they’re doing so much for high school sports….just shut your mouth and be grateful that they ared oing the fantastic job they’re doing.

  7. sfpatriot says:

    I totaly agree sf preps does a fantastic job with the limited resources they have. It is the first place I look for updates. The chronicle is practically useless in carrying results and I oftetimes have to go to the SJ mercury news to get wcal results.
    I also have called in results to SF preps if I am at a game. More people should do the same and/or send out on Twitter (which people can easilt search for when they are looking for a particular game result).

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