by Alex Gleyzer, staff reporter
The Wildcats entered Tuesday’s game just one week removed from their first loss of the season. With the seniors recognized, parents in the stands, and fans cheering, the Cats would look to improve thier reocrd with another big conference game.
Wheeling was coming off a dramatic week in conference play in which the defense has allowed seven goals over the past three games, displaying an uncharacteristic look from the dominant defense Wheeling is known for. However, with a new week in the books, the team looked to compose itself and get back to playing Wildcat soccer.
The Cats wasted no time on Tuesday by dominating the pace early, and obtaining plenty of scoring chances. With just 11 minutes into in the game, Juan Hernandez, senior, would score the first Wildcat goal by receiving a quality chance after a the Wildcats had taken a corner kick.
“We needed a good start. Coach told us to play our game, and I just stuck to my role of holding back and waiting to attack. I knew it was senior night, I wanted to score and I got the opportunity to do so,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez would be the first of six Wildcats to score that night as Wheeling would go on to win the game 6-1.
The physicality brought by the Wildcats would transfer over to their offensive success. Players from both teams would continue physical play no matter what the score, but Wheeling would gain an edge by drawing four penalty kicks. Three of the six Wildcat goals would be scored from the penalty kicks only to help the Cats continue thier offensive output.
Jose Garcia, senior, Frank Estrada, junior, and Francisco Arellano, junior, would each score on the penalty kicks. For Garcia, this would extend his goal scoring streak to three games. Estrada and Arellano would both utilize their speed to rush into the middle of the Hoffman Estates defense, and obtain scoring chances.
“It feels good to get a chance to score since I don’t always get that chance every game. It was a great adrenaline rush, but I still had to remember the game was not over,” Estrada said.
Heading into the game, the Wildcats appeared to have had another size disadvantage, but Estrada and the team would not let that stop them from playing their game. The Wildcats would push back against Hoffman’s physical play and still maintain their compuse and organization.
The Wildcat defense would also prove to maintain its organization by just allowing one goal and continued intensity on ball possession.
“We have to go hard on teams and not get pushed around. We are practicing a new formation that is different from any other team in the conference and continuing to work towards getting comfortable with it,” Estrada said.
With a win on the final home game of the season, the Cats were able to end their home season on a positive note, but they continually note that their is still much work to be done.
The Wildcats still have two final road games against Palatine and Buffalo Grove before they begin the conference tournament, and their road to the state championship.