By most accounts, St. Ignatius has the best boys’ lacrosse program west of the Mississippi.
But are the Wildcats — ranked 11th in the country by Toplaxrecruits.com — among the top handful of teams in the nation? They’re about to find out soon — real soon. For the first time in its storied history, St. Ignatius (16-0) will travel to the hotbed of U.S. lacrosse to test itself against the premier competition in the country.
The Wildcats play at No. 2-ranked Chaminade of Mineola, N.Y., on Thursday before taking on Seton Hall Prep of West Orange, N.J., on Saturday at MetLife Stadium — home of the NFL’s New York Jets and New York Giants — in the Big City Classic. Are the Wildcats excited? You better believe it.
“I can’t tell you how pumped up the boys are,” St. Ignatius coach Chris Packard said. “They are over the moon for this trip because it shows how amazing and far we’ve come as a program. We couldn’t have picked a better opponent [than Chaminade]. Our guys deserve to play the best, and whether we win or lose, it’s going to be a great experience.”
SI will be in an unfamiliar position on Thursday against a team that has sent multiple players to the professional ranks. Even though the Wildcats boast eight Division I commitments, they’ll be the underdogs against Chaminade, which boasts a whopping 21 — count ’em, 21 — future Division I players.
SI’s leading scorer, Joe Lang, isn’t changing his expectations.
“We always go into a game fully expecting to win,” the junior attacker said.
Lang acknowledged the fact that the team’s trip to the East Coast carries huge ramifications in that a solid showing will gain immeasurable respect for SI, while a poor result or two would further dampen the credibility of high school lacrosse on the West Coast.
“We’re going in with nothing to lose,” Lang said. “We’re supposed to lose to the No. 2 team in the country, but we’re hoping to leave a footprint and represent the West Coast and show there’s some great lacrosse being played out here.”
Lang was one of 11 SI players who scored a goal in a 17-5 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral (3-11) on Monday at Crocker Amazon Field. SI’s John Corbolotti and SHC’s Sedge Gates shared match-high honors with four goals each.
Packard was effusive in his praise for Lang and his five senior captains: defender Jack McGovern and midfielders Charlie Ford, Matt Emery, Spencer Evans and Chad Bell.
“The five senior captains set the example,” Packard said. “They’ve got an in-your-face toughness, they’re the first ones to practice and the last to leave, they’re vocal and they’re all about elevating the team to new heights. You can’t beat that.”