By Jeremy Balan
Still early in the spring season, St. Ignatius has as many losses as it had all last year, which could have caused some to think the Wildcats are showing signs of weakness.
But after Wednesday’s 17-3 rout of rival Bellarmine in West Catholic Athletic League play, the Wildcats validated lofty preseason expectations that dubbed them the best team in California.
The Bells (9-1, 3-1) came into the game undefeated, outscoring opponents 125-31, but fell to their nemesis St. Ignatius (7-2, 3-0) again. Bellarmine dropped all three of their meetings last season, including the inaugural WCAL championship game.
“They beat us in every aspect of lacrosse today,” said Bellarmine head coach
Brad Lipscomb Joe Romano. “The better team absolutely won. They deserved to win and we certainly deserved to lose.”
After struggling to maintain possession early in the first quarter, a goal from St. Ignatius junior attackman J. W. McGovern ignited a run of seven consecutive goals for the Wildcats.
“It was the best we’ve played this year,” said St. Ignatius head coach Chris Packard. “We were excited about this game and heard some stuff about Bellarmine being [undefeated] and kicking everyone’s butts. When you get into the WCAL, things get a little bit more personal.”
McGovern finished with a game-high four goals, and familiar faces Bobby Gray and Jack Bodine combined for five goals and four assists, but it was a fresh face that stood out early.
While the Wildcats struggled early, 5-foot-8 freshman goalkeeper Cyrus Scott had five key saves in the first quarter, causing the St. Ignatius bench to erupt with every stop.
As the Wildcats took control of the game, Scott’s impact was limited, and he allowed just one goal and had eight saves before being pulled in the fourth quarter.
“It’s amazing what a couple of saves will do for a defense,” Packard said. “They got much more comfortable after that.”
With nine players scoring goals, the Wildcats’ attack was balanced, but it was a familiar name that stood out on the field.
Matt Emery, brother of former St. Ignatius standout Rob Emery (who has five goals and two assists in eight games as a freshman at the University of Virginia), scored only one goal, but the 6-2 sophomore was imposing on the field, driving past Bellarmine defenders at-will.
On several occasions, the Wildcats would simply spread the field to allow Emery to attack the Bells’ defense all by himself, but once he beat his defender he often missed the net.
“He’s learning that he’s got to just put the ball on cage more,” Packard said. “He was probably due four or five goals today, but he’s over-shooting it a little bit. At this point for him, compared to his brother, he’s right there.”
For the Bells, the rout was discouraging, but in the still-developing WCAL, they figure to get two more shots at the Wildcats — once in San Jose in the regular season, and again in a WCAL championship rematch.
“We’re looking forward to playing them again, and hopefully we can give them a better game next time,”
Lipscomb Romano said. “We definitely get another chance at them in the regular season. Home field is a big thing, but I just hope we can play better.”
SI: 7:25 – J. W. McGovern, assist Spencer Evans
SI: 6:06 – Bobby Gray
SI: 5:44 – Jack Bodine, assist Gray
SI: 0:49 – McGovern, assist Bodine
SI: 10:50 – Bodine
SI: 5:10 – Matt Emery, assist McGovern
SI: 4:36 – Harrison Mallen
B: 1:26 – Sam Delano, assist Tim Jacob
SI: 11:26 – Gray
SI: 10:55 – McGovern, assist Evans
SI: 9:39 – Joe Lang
SI: 7:29 – Chad Bell, assist Bodine
SI: 6:21 – McGovern, assist Bodine
SI: 5:46 – M. J. Toepel
SI: 1:26 – Toepel, assist Lang
SI: 0:01 – Peter Doyle
B: 11:26 – John Bigelow
SI: 9:32 – Doyle
SI: 5:00 – Doyle, assist Bell
SI: 3:27 – Gray