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Willis seeks Ohio scoring record



Published: Sat, October 9, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Mooney standout needs three goals today to break the career mark of 154 goals.

By BILL SULLIVAN

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- If Cardinal Mooney High senior Ken "Kiki" Willis scores his third goal against Canfield today, the soccer match will be stopped and he will be handed the game ball.

No, he won't penalized for touching a soccer ball with his hands.

He will be given the ball as a keepsake for breaking the Ohio record for goals in a career.

Willis, who now has 152 goals, is within two of the career record of 154 set by Ryan Pore of Mansfield Madison from 1998-2001.

An immediate starter as a freshman, Willis has led Mooney to a 66-7-3 record in his career, including three trips to the regional tournament and a state championship in 2002.

"He's the best local player I've ever seen, much less coached," Mooney coach Lenny Krispinsky said. "He's unbelievable."

Winning qualities

When asked what qualities make Willis so special, Krispinsky, who has won 136 games, quickly rattled off a long list.

"His vision of the field. His skill -- the power that he has in his shot," said Krispinsky.

"His ability to read a defense -- to identify teammates and opponents. He knows exactly where to put the ball."

As a freshman, Willis scored 28 goals and led Mooney (15-4-1) to the regional tournament for the first time in school history.

He scored 38 times as a sophomore and helped the Cardinals (21-2) win the area's only state soccer title.

A 50-goal junior season (fourth best in Ohio history) was ended when Mooney (19-1-1) fell in the regional final.

Mooney is unbeaten

This year, Mooney is undefeated (11-0-1), ranked first in Ohio in Division II and is the top seed in the district tournament. Wilis has scored 36 goals this season.

While teams have tried their best to deny the high-scoring forward the ball, there's no denying his ability.

"He's the best player I've ever seen in Ohio. Period. And the best scorer," said Warren JFK coach Lou Cali, who is 0-5 against Willis-led teams.

"Everybody talks about his speed and the fact he can finish with either leg, but the thing is, you can put him around any group of kids and he's going to make them better," Cali added.

Tuesday, Willis scored five times against JFK, helping Mooney clinch its fourth straight Steel Valley Conference crown.

"He's got tremendous vision," Cali said. "He's probably the most unselfish player on the field.

"If he wanted to, he could probably have a lot more goals already. But, he sacrifices that for the good of the team. He's just a special kid."

All-American

Willis, who was named a Parade All-American as a junior, saw the possible state record coming.

"I do think about the record," Willis said.

"Coming into my senior season I knew I was pretty close to the record. So, I've just been working a little extra hard just to get to be able to break the record. It's been an exciting thing."

Along the way he's been named All-Ohio three times, has twice earned Adidas All-American status and is a two-time Vindicator Player of the Year.




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