The one who calls for the ball, isn't always the first to get to it
Mooney beat Howland in overtime, 2-1. The Cards will play in a regional semifinal on Tuesday.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
STRUTHERS -- There's something about overtime that brings out the best in the Cardinal Mooney High boys soccer team.
With 6 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, Mooney senior Kiki Willis scored a Golden Goal to give the Cardinals a 2-1 win over Howland in the Division II district championship Saturday.
On the play Mooney sophomore Aleko Frangopoulos shot from 20 yards out. Howland senior goalkeeper Zack Roscoe called for the ball, but his plans were denied.
Willis intercepted the ball before Roscoe had a chance and turned and fired.
Mooney (17-1-1) will play the winner of the Marlington-Canton Central Catholic game in Alliance on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The last time Mooney was involved in an overtime game, it defeated Columbus Bishop DeSales for the 2002 state title by an identical 2-1 count.
"I got to it a little bit before he did," Willis said of the play. "He extended his hands, but I just beat him to the ball."
Willis now has 47 goals this year and 163 on his career.
"He yelled he had it," Willis said, "and I just anticipated like I always do and I got to the ball first."
After settling the ball, Willis shot into an open net.
"I touched the ball with the top of my foot and then I spun around like a 360," he said.
Howland's goalie Roscoe had played a brilliant game, saving 13 Mooney shots, but he was not alone on defense.
A pair of Howland seniors -- John Ross and Dante Fiorino -- were effective in slowing the Mooney attack.
"Their defenders were hyped; they came well-prepared," said Willis. "They shut the entire team down. Not just me, but everyone."
After a scoreless first half, Howland scored on a corner kick. Josh Keul started the play and sophomore Zack Byler finished it for a 1-0 lead.
About 15 minutes later, Mooney equalized the game on a corner kick. Sophomore Dominic DiPasquale scored his 11th goal of the season on a corner kick taken by Zack Hernan.
"We knew we had to defend all their players and not just Kiki," said Howland coach George Stevens. "Kiki tapped it in -- that's a good play on his part and bad luck for us."
Howland was the last local team to beat Mooney, in 2001, Kiki's freshman season.
Mooney coach Lenny Krispinsky has now won 142 games with the Cardinals.
"I absolutely hate overtimes," said Krispinsky. "The year before we won the state championship, I had quadruple bypass surgery. This really tested that surgeon's expertise," said Krispinsky, grabbing his chest.