Sporting WCA

Futbol Cats Drop Close One on Senior Night

On a night focused on celebrating the ten seniors on Westminster’s soccer team, the Saint Dominic Crusaders were the ones celebrating when the final horn blew as they squeaked past the Wildcats 1-0.

The night began with a special ceremony to honor the ten seniors on the Wildcats roster in order to recognize the impact and influence they have left on the team.

“These seniors are a huge part of our team. They teach us how to play the game hard, but to still have fun and enjoy the game. It’s going to be very different next year not having these guys around.” said Thomas Arndt, a sophomore defender for the Cats.

All but one of the seniors started the contest for Westminster (11-11-1) who went up against a tough Saint Dominic squad that was coming off of two straight wins.

The first 20 minutes of the game were controlled by the Wildcats who attacked and pressured the Crusaders (11-13) creating numerous scoring opportunities. The closest came in the 18th minute of the game, when senior Jack Bauer received a ball played to him by fellow senior, Connor Dolan, and he blew past the Saint Dominic defense before cutting into the middle of the field and shooting the ball off the crossbar and out of play. After the near score, Saint Dominic evened the play out and even created several of their own scoring chances, but senior goaltender Brandon Beat made several big saves, including one on a breakaway with 5 minutes left in the half.

In the second half, the Crusaders continued their offensive push, and just 5 minutes into the half they were rewarded. Forward Jacob Grabenhorst won the ball from the Wildcats and dribbled his way into the box before ripping a strong shot that sophomore goalkeeper Joey Keane, who had just entered the game, deflected but was unable to keep out of the back of the net. Westminster pressed hard for an equalizer, and they nearly got one with 12 minutes remaining in the game. Sophomore midfielder Zach Cancila sent a beautiful cross in to Brandon Beat, but Beat’s shot was onot just saved by the Saint Dominic goalkeeper. The Crusaders were able to fend off the attack of the Wildcats and held on to win the game 1-0.

Despite the loss, the Wildcats stuck to their gameplan and played a very strong game.

“It was an unlucky loss. We played very well overall and we just need to finish our chances better.” said Nathan Laughlin, sophomore midfielder.

Thomas Arndt echoed his teammate saying, “We played a good, hard-fought game today. I thought the seniors really stepped up and played the hardest they’ve played all year, and it was just an unlucky loss.”

Unfortunately for Westminster, they received a huge blow when their leading scorer, Frankie Sacco, had to be helped off of the field just 14 minutes into the first half after he raced for a ball and was taken out by the Saint Dominic goalie, pinning his ankle behind him. Sacco, who did not return to the game, was later diagnosed with a severe high ankle sprain and declared doubtful for the Wildcats’ first game of the playoffs on Tuesday. The Wildcats may already be without their starting center back, Teddy Bacon, the lone senior deemed unable to start, who sprained his MCL in a game earlier in the month, but they remained confident in their abilities despite the injuries.

“Frankie is a huge part of our team and offense, and losing him is going to be tough, but we have players who can step in a fill that hole. Just like when Teddy went down, we had guys step up and fill that gap, and it’s just a challenge we are going to have to overcome in the playoffs.” said Arndt.

The Wildcats have one more regular season game remaining, Wednesday at McCluer North, before opening up district play at home versus Parkway Central on Tuesday, October 25.