It's Miller time: Senior standout keys Mooney defense
The four-year starter will walk on at the University of Akron next season.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- When Kevin Miller graduates from Cardinal Mooney High School in the spring, don't be surprised to see prep soccer coaches throughout Ohio attending the ceremony.
They're all going to be glad to see him move on.
Over Miller's soccer career at Mooney, the Cardinals have racked up a 77-8-3 record. Tuesday, Miller will play in his third state tournament.
When Miller was a freshman, he played every minute in Mooney's 2-1 overtime win in the state championship game that gave the Mahoning Valley its only prep soccer title.
As a sophomore, Miller helped the Cardinals advance to the regional championship game. Last year Mooney lost in the state championship game, 1-0.
Miller says there's no shortcut to his soccer success; a lot of preparation goes into his team.
"It's hard work, really," Miller said. "And, a great coaching staff; they always have us prepared for our games. They keep us working.
"Our program is excellent. We have the indoor season. The club teams in the area and in the Cleveland area keep us around competition all year around. By the time we come back to play for Mooney, we're ready to go."
Miller (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) plays the non-glamorous position of central defender -- he doesn't score goals; his duty is to prevent the opponents from scoring.
Miller takes his field commands from senior goalie Andrew Loudon (13 shutouts in 21 games) and directs the rest of the stingy defense.
"I'm thinking a zero," Miller said of his pre-game state of mind. "I'm thinking there's a [opposing] forward that's worked just as hard as I have.
"He's done all the laps, all the sprints that we've done. They have to play in the same conditions that I do. There's no reason that he should beat me. I should be able to shut down every forward that's worked as hard as I have."
Although Mooney has won 77 games with Miller on the team, one game stands out in his mind -- the 2002 state title match at Columbus Crew Stadium.
"The greatest game I've ever played was the state championship game my freshman year," Miller said. "I was the youngest player on the field for both teams.
"I had nine seniors [starters] to back me up. I felt like I played unbelievable for my team to win like that."
He played all 100 minutes in the 2-1 double overtime battle over Columbus DeSales.
Recently, Miller decided he's going to walk-on at the University of Akron's soccer team next fall. The Zips are ranked first in the country.
There Miller will again play with Zack Hernan, a Mooney senior who is a Zip recruit.
Miller will study sports medicine, which may be an ironic choice.
His father, Paul -- "The biggest fan I have," Miller said. "He loves me; I love my dad." -- last missed one of Kevin's game five years ago when he received a triple heart bypass.
But for now Miller has to concentrate on Tuesday's assignment: Kidron Central Christian. Then perhaps it's another trip to Crew Stadium Friday afternoon.