HAMMOND — Bishop Noll has won seven consecutive games and has only lost two games all season.
The Warriors have won conference, sectional and regional championships and have outscored opponents 20-5 throughout the postseason to advance to their first-ever state title game.
If Bishop Noll wins or loses against Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter on Saturday, it has already secured the best campaign in school history. But for head coach Quinn Cloghessy and the rest of the Warriors, they aren’t satisfied with making it to the final game of the season.
Their goal — since losing in a Class 2A semistate title match last year — was to be the last team standing, and now they are one victory away from turning that dream into a reality.
“These guys saw how close they were last year, and I don’t think they realized truly how close they were,” Cloghessy said. “But to know they were only one game away from playing for a state title has really inspired them to keep playing.”
Cloghessy said Bishop Boll’s 1-0 loss to Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran to end its 2017 season helped galvanize his group, and the Warriors have used it as a stepped stone to get better. This year, the team has posted 10 shutouts behind its standout senior goalkeeper Daniel Salazar.
Salazar has only given up 12 goals all season — posting 0.063 goals against average — and serves as a Bishop Noll co-captain alongside senior striker Jake Fuehrmeyer. Cloghessy said both players have their own leadership styles — Salazar is the serious one and Fuehrmeyer is more lighthearted — but they work well together and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Outside of official titles, Cloghessy said striker Jake Wichlinski and midfielder Bruno Zamora have also emerged as team leaders. The sophomores have been combined for over 100 points this year, and Wichlinski’s 35 goals and Zamora’s 25 assists are both program records.
“(Cloghessy) has been extremely influential,” Wichlinski said. “He runs all of the practices. He does all of the drills. He’s definitely taught me things that I got better at throughout the years, and he’s made me a more technical and more efficient player.”
Wichlinksi said it would mean a lot personally to bring home the state championship trophy, but also for his brother Nick Wichlinski – who is a senior midfielder on the team – and his head coach and assistant coach who graduated from Bishop Noll.
Cloghessy played for the Warriors and graduated in 2010. His father and assistant coach, Kevin Cloghessy, graduated in 1980.
Kevin Cloghessy has coached at Bishop Noll for roughly nine years and said it has brought him a lot of joy to watch his son lead the Warriors to the state title game.
“The kids that are seniors now were here when he was in his first year as an assistant coach,” Kevin Cloghessy said. “So this is a special group of people for him.”