By James Kay
When Fenwick hired Craig Blazer earlier this year to take over as the varsity soccer head coach, his team had one message for him: We have to beat St. Ignatius. Unfortunately, the Friars were unable to do that on Sept. 26. However, after competitive 2-1 loss to Ignatius, Blazer isn't focused on the bitter taste left by his team's rivals.
"In a rivalry matchup, yeah we wanted to win, and it was a really good game that came down to a penalty kick," said Blazer. "Both teams played at a high level, and our guys are learning. I'm proud of them, and we will learn from this."
In the first half, it looked like Fenwick (9-3-1, 2-1-1) had all the answers for the Wolfpack offense. Going into the match, Fenwick's goalkeepers had recorded six shutouts, while only surrendering eight goals on the season. Throughout the first half, the Friars denied every chance Ignatius had on goal.
"Our goalkeepers have been great," said Blazer. "Jacob [Arquette]'s first half was incredible and Marko [Brajkovic] did his normal good thing. They are so talented, and we are going to be in every game this year because of them. They kept us in this one."
Arquette's masterful first half was highlighted by a series of deflections and diving stops that had Ignatius frustrated throughout the first 40 minutes of the match. Even when the Wolfpack offense was able to find daylight in the middle of the box, Arquette halted any momentum Ignatius created.
"I think we are still building our identity, and we have done that by trying to take of our defense first," said Blazer. "We started to give up a lot of fouls at the end of the first half and you could tell that they were dangerous."
The Friars opened the scoring with 23 minutes left in the half when sophomore Jack Powers found an opening in the box. With a two-on-two opportunity, Ignatius' goalie stepped up in the box and deflected Fenwick's first shot on goal before Powers took the deflection and knocked the ball into the wide-open net. No one scored the rest of the half, but Ignatius started adjusting to the Friar defense late in the first.
Fenwick held their own in the second half but found themselves in a vulnerable position at the 19-minute mark after they committed a foul 30 yards away from the goal on the sideline. Ignatius' Ryan Roberts launched a pass into the box and found his teammate Ryan Notarianni who finished it with a header into the net to tie the match.
"We could have managed the last couple minutes when it was 1-1 to try to stop the bleeding," said Blazer. "We really wanted to push that to overtime and recollect ourselves. You have to give them credit for what they created in the box at the end."
It seemed like the Friars and Wolfpack were going to battle in overtime with the match tied at 1-1 with 10 seconds left. However, on a throw-in, Ignatius' Everett Shorey was fouled in the box and finished off a penalty kick to give the Wolfpack a 2-1 lead on their senior night.
"This is probably the worst loss for us this year … maybe even the worst one during my time here at Fenwick," said senior Joe Sedlacek. "But we knew they were a good team and we needed to stay disciplined. We did what we needed to do but it was just an unlucky finish."
The Friars will continue their tear this season when they square off against De La Salle on senior day, Oct. 1 at 4:30.