PEORIA, Ill. — It’s been an interesting week at Notre Dame High School.
“Some of the kids said, it’s hard. ‘I hope I’m not on the ineligibility list Friday because I’ve had a hard time concentrating in class,” soccer coach Mike Bare quipped.
That’s what happens when his Irish, ranked No. 1 in the nation by Top Drawer soccer, plays host to Cleveland St. Ignatius, the former No. 1 team that is now ranked third.
Two of the top three high school teams in the country, according to the national rankings, will meet in Peoria Friday night at 7:30. It’s game that’s been in the works for three years when the school’s head coaches meet at an All-Star game.
“Every year we touch bases but it hasn’t worked out,” Bare said of the match-up between powerhouse soccer programs. “(St. Ignatius) is not allowed to miss school for athletics. So there is one day they can travel here. That days is Friday, October 4th. It’s a faculty in-service day there.”
Just how big of a game is this?
Notre Dame is bringing in extra bleachers to seat 2,000. The school expects another thousand fans just to be standing around the field.
There could be a bigger crowd here Friday then at the state soccer finals next month.
“It’s a great opportunity for the city of Peoria,” said senior McKay LaHood. “There’s never been a match that draws this many people. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to win.”
Notre Dame, a four-time Illinois state champion, enters the game 14-0.
“Everyone around the city, the school will come out. Some people from Bloomington, Champaign, Chicago, around the state to watch this game,” said senior Myles Sophanavong.
The state championship game aside, it’s shaping up the biggest contest on Notre Dame’s schedule.
“When everybody plays us, it’s a circle game on their schedule but sometimes it’s not a circle game on our schedule for our guys,” Bare said. “But this Friday is a circle game for us.”