GIRLS SOCCER Experience figures in Mooney win
Howland's 30-game (26-0-4) regular-season unbeaten streak was broken.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
STRUTHERS -- Combined, the pair have about 25 years of soccer-playing experience, most of which came on the same area teams.
It should come as no surprise then that seniors Kelli Willis and Marisa Simon played instrumental roles in Cardinal Mooney's 2-1 win over Howland on Monday.
Willis scored both goals for Mooney (11-2-1), giving the forward 16 on the year and 94 in her career.
Simon, an Ohio State recruit, initiated the play that broke a 1-1 tie and gave her team its eighth straight win.
Howland (12-1-2), the top seed in the Division I sectional tournament, saw a 30-game (26-0-4) regular-season unbeaten streak broken.
The Tigers scored first when freshman forward Megan Long drilled home her 10th goal from 5 yards away at the 28-minute mark of the first half.
Just 25 seconds later, Mooney freshman Katie Griswold broke down the right wing and shot from 24 yards out.
Howland goalie Melissa Airhart dived and deflected the ball right to Willis, who scored from short range.
"It was a shot, and it ricocheted off the goalie onto my foot," Willis explained of her perfect positioning.
"It went about 2 yards," she laughed about her goal.
About 20 minutes later, Griswold was taken down with a hard tackle, and Mooney was awarded a direct kick.
Simon, who has 15 assists this year and 64 on her career, kicked the ball from nearly 30 yards out. It just caught the crossbar and bounced back onto the field.
"It actually went over the goalie and bounced out," Willis said. "I just happened to be there."
That shot also covered about 2 yards.
"Usually, in most games, no one will follow up, but being that I was there, I guess I was lucky."
The Cardinals, ranked fifth in the state Division II poll, are the top seed in their sectional tournament.
Willis and Simon each played all 80 minutes in the game. Simon, a natural center midfielder, actually played about four positions so teammates could get a rest.
"I moved around a little bit; girls were getting tired. We all have to do what we have to do to win," Simon said.
More aggressive play
Buoyed by the lead, Mooney played more aggressive in the second half, attacking the midfield often.
"We asked the midfielders to step up and try to control the field," Mooney coach Alex Simon said.
"We started to win balls in the midfield. We weren't doing that in the first half, and it was scary."
Marisa Simon, the coach's daughter, tried to connect on lob passes to Willis a couple times in the final 40 minutes, just failing on occasion.
"I've been playing with her for a long time, since we were little," Marisa Simon said.
"I'm just used to the way she plays. The way she runs, it's easy to find her. We work good together."
The Tigers took four shots each half, and Mooney goalie Natalie Humphreys had six saves.
"We're going to come back and learn from this," Howland first-year coach Pat Hovance said. "And, go for the district championship."
Howland has allowed just nine goals in 15 games, shutting out seven opponents. Mooney is the only team to score more than once again the Tigers.