Zack Hernan and Dom DiPasquale scored goals for Mooney in the win.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
STRUTHERS -- A pair of look-alike goals, spaced 70 seconds apart, allowed the Cardinal Mooney High School boy's soccer team to beat Poland 2-0 in a Div. II district semi-final game Tuesday.
Howland will play Mooney in the district championship at the Tri-County Sports Complex Saturday at 3 p.m.
After playing through a difficult, scoreless deadlock for 65 minutes, the top-seeded Cardinals (16-1-1) found the back of the net twice in just over a minute.
On both scoring plays, Mooney All-American senior Kiki Willis took the ball down the left wing and shot.
Both times Poland junior goalie Caleb Markusic dove and deflected the ball.
On both occasions, a Mooney underclassman charged hard following the rejection and scored from point-blank range.
The first score, with 15:33 remaining, came off the right foot of junior Zack Hernan.
"There was a deflection off a Poland defender and the ball was just sitting right in front of the goal and I put it in," said Hernan, who has 11 goals this season.
"It was a great play by Kiki. I gave it all I had."
With 14:23 to play, Willis, who was marked well all game by Poland senior Mike Hallock, again worked free in the left flat.
His cross was pushed out by a lunging Markusic, but the ball remained in play.
"Caleb played a phenomenal game today," Poland coach Chris Labatte said.
"Unfortunately, he made a couple of nice touches on the two goals that were scored but we weren't there to clean up the mess."
Mooney sophomore Dom DiPasquale ran 25 yards to follow the rejection and scored a 5-foot goal, making it 2-0.
"I just hoped that what he did on the first one, just deflected it, and just followed up," said DiPasquale, now with 10 goals.
With the game still scoreless well into the second half, Poland (13-1-4), played with confidence.
"We honestly thought we should have been ahead," Labatte said. "I knew that it was going to be a hard, defensive game on both sides for quite a long time.
"Basically it was going to be whoever got the first goal was going to win. That's what happened."
Hernan also felt his goal would likely hold up as the lone score.
"It was that late in the game and one goal would definitely put the game away," Hernan said.
DiPasquale, however, added the insurance tally.
"We had to get the second one -- just to shut them down," DiPasquale said.
Searching for an attack
Despite the sudden two-goal deficit, Poland continued to search for an attack.
"We pretty much generated what we were going to generate," Labatte said.
"There were some solid chances. We just didn't put enough pressure, I think, on them."
But the Cardinals, who have competed in three straight regional tournaments, never panicked despite the long stalemate and played with more urgency in the final 20 minutes.
Mooney tried Markusic with 14 shots on goal; he saved 10 of them.
"The thing that really kept us in the game was our defense," Mooney coach Lenny Krispinsky said.
Senior goalie Jeff Seddon recorded his 11th shutout, thanks to the yeoman's service of defender Kevin Miller.
"It was Kevin Miller and the whole defense," Krispinsky said.
Miller had missed the last two games due to an injured leg.