By Jeremy Balan
When the West Catholic Athletic League added boys lacrosse in 2010, it was assumed and stated by many that it wouldn’t be long before athletic powerhouses to the south caught up to St. Ignatius.
With a dominating 16-2 win over visiting Bellarmine in the WCAL championship game on Friday, the Wildcats proved the opposite – they’re distancing themselves from the pack.
Duke-bound senior Chad Cohan and sophomore Joe Lang had three goals apiece, the Wildcats led 8-2 at the half and outscored the Bells 8-0 in the second half, while playing mostly substitutes.
Already a state power before the league began to play lacrosse, St. Ignatius has gone 32-0 in WCAL play to collect three league titles. The Wildcats have outscored league opponents 526-119 in three years, but no season has been as lopsided as this one, where the Wildcats have outscored WCAL teams 199-26.
The Wildcats (21-1) beat Bellarmine (14-8) three times this season by a combined score of 49-6 and the Bells didn’t lose to any other WCAL opponent.
“We just had too much talent this year and it’s bittersweet to end it,” St. Ignatius head coach Chris Packard said, referencing the exit of a graduating senior class that has seen the program go 81-7 in four years. “The program is as strong as ever and the seniors left it better than they found it. I’ve been a part of a lot of great teams, but as a team, at its best, this is the best I’ve ever coached.”
Eight different St. Ignatius players scored and the Wildcats dominated possession behind another standout performance from midfielder Will McKee.
The senior won 16 of the 17 face-offs he took, including all of the 15 in the first half.
“It’s something I take pride in and it’s something I started last year just to help the team. That’s really all we needed, because we have a team full of stars.” said McKee, one of four St. Ignatius seniors that will play at Division I colleges next season (McKee will play at Lehigh).
Packard would like to see the league move to a single round-robin format, rather than it’s current setup, where teams play each other twice. This would enable St. Ignatius to play an expanded non-league schedule against some of the toughest teams in the western United States.
“We’ve got to modify a couple of things within the league, so that we can go and play more games outside of our area, so it can get everyone more competition,” Packard said. “A one-sided game like that doesn’t benefit anyone on either side of the ball.”
As happy as the Wildcats were to win their third-consecutive WCAL title, to a man, each player would admit they fell short this season, with the one blemish being a loss to Torrey Pines.
“It feels great, but [a WCAL title] is expected here at SI,” McKee said. “Our goal was to go undefeated and we didn’t achieve that, but the WCAL championship still feels good.”
Packard didn’t make the trip to Southern California where the Wildcats fell to Torrey Pines, but the loss still haunts him as well.
“We can’t stop talking about it,” Packard said. “It feels like we let one go. Credit Torrey Pines, though. They beat us fair and square, and that’s two years in a row, but if we could get it back, we would play them again right now.”
SI: 11:01 – Chad Bell
SI: 8:29 – Joe Lang, assist Chad Cohan
SI: 6:53 – Lang
SI: 3:14 – Cohan, assist Peter Doyle
SI: 1:57 – Lang
B: 0:29 – Alex Abiog, assist Tyler Mackin
SI: 11:21 – Doyle
SI: 5:48 – Bell
B: 3:01 – Louder Milk, Joe Rodrigues
SI: 0:52 – Charlie Ford
SI: 11:13 – Cohan
SI: 9:18 – David Flemming, assist Lang
SI: 8:35 – Philip Alimam
SI: 6:46 – Cohan
SI: 5:34 – Fleming, assist Cohan
SI: 10:40 – Alimam
SI: 5:58 – Brenden Hahn
SI: 1:47 – James Milligan