By Jeremy Balan
Dominance is a term often bandied about in sports coverage, but it fits the St. Ignatius boys lacrosse team perfectly.
In the two years the West Catholic Athletic League has featured lacrosse, the Wildcats have yet to lose a game, and continued that streak with a 13-9 win over visiting Bellarmine in the WCAL championship on Friday.
“I was far and away more nervous about this game than any other game this season,” said St. Ignatius head coach Chris Packard. “Staying on top is difficult, no doubt, but its an honor and a tribute to those guys and the work they put in.”
Unlike the teams’ first two meetings, where St. Ignatius (20-3) outscored the Bells by a combined 29-9, Bellarmine (18-3) came to play in the championship game
After St. Ignatius had an 8-3 lead at the half, the Bells pulled within 10-7 in the third.
But every time the Bells made a run, the Wildcats responded, especially in the crucial fourth quarter.
The Wildcats opened the final quarter with a rocketed goal from 15 yards out from sophomore Matt Emery, his third of the game, then tacked on two more goals from senior Jack Bodine to cap their scoring and put the game out of reach.
“You could feel them get more confident,” Packard said. “We had to answer and thankfully we did. The guys are timely and that’s a product of their effort and hard work. It’s not just happenstance that they score big goals.”
Often navigating through the teeth of the Bellarmine defense, Bodine finished with a game-high four goals, but none were as important as the pair in the fourth quarter.
“As a senior, knowing it was my last game, it was pretty special,” Bodine said. “It’s up to the seniors in situations like that to take control of the game.”
St. Ignatius held off the late Bellarmine rally, but without a quick start, it might have been trailing late. The Wildcats surged in the first, scoring the first four goals of the game, and took a 7-1 lead midway through the second.
Senior attackman Bobby Gray scored three goals in the run, but the key was the work of junior midfielder Will Mckee, who won 6-of-7 face-offs in the first quarter.
“Will has been awesome for us all year, and it’s a game where, if you have the ball, you can control what’s going on,” Packard said.
As the game wore on though, Bellarmine started consistently winning face-offs, which fueled its late run.
Still, the loss was a tough pill for the Bells to swallow. In 21 games, Bellarmine’s only losses came to St. Ignatius, and they’ve dropped six straight to St. Ignatius in the past two years, including both WCAL title games.
“We’re not going to be able to stay away from SI. They’re in our league, and if you’ve got to lose to anybody, that’s the team you want to lose to,” said Bellarmine head coach Joe Romano. “They’re the class of the WCAL and the better team won today, but I can’t say I’m not proud of the fight of these guys. I tell people around our campus a lot that it’s not a rivalry yet. In two years we’re 0-6. Our goal is the WCAL championship, but that runs though SI.”
SI: 11:07 – Bobby Gray, assist Matt Emery
SI: 10:56 – Gray, assist J.W. McGovern
SI: 10:15 – Jack Bodine, assist Peter Doyle
SI: 3:30 – Emery
B: 2:29 – Anthony Varni, assist Ryan Le
SI: 0:04 – Gray, assist Bodine
SI: 8:40 – Doyle, assist Gray
SI: 5:28 – Bodine, assist Will McKee
B: 5:11 – Varni
B: 3:56 – Connor Towne, assist Austin Pridham
SI: 1:12 – Emery, assist McGovern
B: 9:51 – Tim Jacob
SI: 8:29 – McGovern, assist Emery
B: 4:24 – Jacob
B: 2:41 – Tim Ruder, assist Pridham
SI: 1:17 – Doyle, assist Bodine
B: 0:09 – Varni
SI: 10:53 – Emery
SI: 7:21 – Bodine
SI: 5:13 – Bodine, assist Spencer Evans
B: 3:48 – Pridham
B: 2:29 – Kevin Weigand