Bryan Long, St. Ignatius dominate rival St. Joseph

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Soccer is complicated and often intricate. Bryan Long and Jonathan Viera aim to make it direct and intuitive

“When you know how to play soccer, you automatically understand each other,” Viera said. “It’s just kind a thing you develop over time.”

Long scored twice and Viera added a goal and an assist as St. Ignatius remained hot by blitzing Catholic League rival St. Joseph 5-1 at home to capture its seventh consecutive game.

The Wolfpack is undefeated (7-0-1) in its last eight games. The team is coming of its most impressive win during the streak, a 2-1 defeat of No. 16 Lake Park at Toyota Park on Sunday. The team has come together, seeking a top seed in the upcoming Class 3A state tournament seedings.

“We got one of our captains, Marco [Sanchez], a forward, who came back from a dislocated shoulder and he has brought a lot of energy to the team,” Long said.

A quick and elusive 5-10 senior forward, Long registered his team-leading seventh and eighth goals of the year for the Wolfpack (11-4-2, 4-0 Catholic North). Long and Viera scored a goal apiece early as St. Ignatius pounced on the Chargers early as St. Ignatius the 2-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes.

“We were undefeated in the Catholic League and we wanted to keep it that way,” Long said. “We wanted to come out hard and send a message to the rest of the league that we’re No. 1.” A 5-6 junior, Viera scored a goal in his second consecutive game.

St. Joseph (11-3-2, 2-1-1) narrowed the margin in the 29th minute on a sharp delivery by its free kick specialist, Victor Moreno. The ball struck off the defensive wall of the Wolfpack before curling inside the far post.

Rather than a spark, the play was the lone bright spot for the Chargers, who are struggling after an 11-1-1 start. “It’s just frustration,” St. Joseph coach Stanley Niemiec said. “We have a long way to go before the IHSA playoffs. I think we shot ourselves in the foot as far as the conference is concerned.”

St. Ignatius turned the game into a rout by scoring three goals during a 12-minute stretch of the second half. Senior defender John Devitt started the onslaught when he rebounded his own miss. Viera and Long collaborated on a beautiful sequence, Viera dribbling down the left edge, drawing several St. Joseph and delivering a perfect cross to Long, who punched it in the open net.

Senior midfielder Tristan Mitchell completed the scoring by blasting a short ball, assisted by senior forward Vincente Vergara.

“I think, overall, the second half just reflects the kind of energy in the last seven or eight games, and how we are just really hungry to put a team away,” Viera said.

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