SOCCER Willis nets 100th goal as Mooney moves on
The Cardinals blanked Champion, 5-0, to earn a game in Westlake.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
STRUTHERS -- Senior Kelli Willis picked the perfect stage to score the 100th goal of her soccer career.
With 14 minutes to go in the first half, Willis took a tremendous pass from Marisa Simon and reached the century plateau from 14 feet away in a Division II girls district final.
The milestone gave Mooney a 2-0 lead Saturday and the Cardinals went on to beat Champion 5-0 at Valley Sports.
The senior-laden Cardinals (16-2-1) will meet Bay Village Bay in a regional semifinal at the Westlake Soccer Complex Wednesday at 7 p.m. Bay defeated Medina Buckeye 3-0 to win its district.
"It was something for me to look forward to this game as well as the district final, period," Willis said of the triple-digit tally.
Willis scored 22 goals this season.
With the match just 40 seconds old, Simon dribbled across the mouth of the Champion goal, right to left, and hit a 15-foot left-footed blast for the only scoring Mooney would need.
Simon, who will play for Ohio State next fall, has 59 goals and 68 career assists.
Mooney, ranked fifth in Ohio in the final coaches poll, was the more aggressive team and attacked as a well-meshed unit.
The Cardinals went in front 3-0 at the break when senior forward Kelly Burke took a Willis pass in full stride and kicked home a winner from 10 yards.
While the Cardinals were winning nearly every loose ball and controlling the attack, Mooney's defense recorded its ninth shutout of the season.
The Cardinals, who have won 13 straight, have out-scored three tournament opponents, 25-0.
Mooney coach Alex Simon gave the game ball to his four defenders -- Mimi Vitello, Nomiki Frangopoulos, Vickie Dreiling and Gabby Fagan -- who made life easy for senior goalie Natalie Humphreys.
"They get the game ball because they kept the ball down on our offense and away from Natalie," Simon said.
Mooney took 18 shots; Champion got off one.
"I think about how I want my team to score and how cold it is," Humphreys said of her thoughts during the contest. "And, how I'm lucky there's no shots being taken on me."
First regional trip
Humphreys was told this is the first Mooney girls team to reach a soccer regional.
"It means we're a good team," she said. "And, I'm cold."
While most of the Mooney production came from a group of seven senior seniors, the future of the program made itself known.
Freshman Katie Griswold scored twice in the second half -- once on a header on a corner kick from Frangopoulos -- and she assisted on the Simon tally.
"The freshmen are coming along pretty well, just as well as we did," Willis said. "This is how we were when we were freshmen. We came out good, we came out strong, we played with intensity."
"They're good," said Champion coach Dan Houle said of Mooney. "They pass the ball well, they move well without the ball, they do everything well."
Champion (9-8-3) senior Brittany Bako finished the season with 11 goals. She got off their lone shot.
"We never did push down there to do any kind of damage," Houle said. "They beat us to the ball."