Wolfpack Soccer Finishes 3rd in State


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St. Ignatius entered the weekend with seven losses, the most defeats of any of the teams entering the 2A and 3A Finals. In their third state trip in program history, St. Ignatius took on a Peoria Notre Dame program with four state titles and its 15th appearance at the State Finals.

“We saw their record, scores, their high ranking,” Captain Keith Bevans ‘19 said. “It took a little bit for us to calm the nerves. But Coach Jim Luzzi calmed us down.” Luzzi said, “You don’t play the reputation; you play the team on the field.” Later in the locker room, Keenan Troy ‘19 quoted Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” by saying, “ain’t this what we been waiting for.” That song seemed to be the song of the season for the Wolfpack. The Wolfpack had cruised through their regional final with a +14 goal differential and beat tough Latin and Solorio teams for the Sectional Title. It took 2 late goals from Bevans and Mark Kirby ‘19 to topple 2013 Champions Washington to make it to State. They would face a team ranked #4 in the country as their first opponent.

 

The Wolfpack played exceptional soccer, with Danny Fernandez ‘20 scoring first in the 18th minute, but lost their state semifinal in a shootout to state power Notre Dame (Peoria) on Friday in Hoffman Estate.

Fewer than 24 hours later, they played against another downstate giant, Gibault Catholic. “It’s pretty special to be one of those teams [that finishes their season with a win]. We knew it had to be done” Tal Malven ‘20 said. Malven scored a goal in the first half, and Gibault scored late in the second half to force a shootout. The game when straight to PKs.

That’s when Troy stepped up. He dove to his right on Gibault’s first PK attempt, and got his hand on the ball and parried it wide. Four St. Ignatius kickers  (Tal Malven ‘20, Jack Galante ‘19, Christian Telles ‘19, and Jaden Rice ‘21) converted their penalty kicks to clinch the victory. Gibault hit the crossbar with their fourth kick in the shootout, setting up Rice’s game-winning kick. The Wolfpack’s final record was 17-8.