By Brandon judeh
It was almost one year ago to the day that the Lakeview boys soccer team upset Cardinal Mooney in the Division II district finals, ending the Cardinals’ run of 10 consecutive district titles.
The pair met once again on Saturday night at Don Richards Memorial Stadium and just like last season, the Bulldogs pulled ousted Mooney, this time in a thrilling 2-1 match.
This newly established rivalry has turned into, perhaps, the most intense 80 minutes of soccer this area has seen.
Rain fell throughout the game and both teams hustled and fought their way up the wet field.
After Mooney tied the game at 1 in the 15th minute on a goal by Myles Harris, Lakeview answered.
With less than eight minutes remaining Colton Ainsley, who is the leading scorer in the state, received the ball off of a deflection and nailed his sixth goal of the playoffs to give the Bulldogs the lead.
“I saw the ball bounce off someone so I nailed it and put it in, it’s the best feeling ever,” said Ainsley.
The last two minutes of the game proved to be the most frantic as Mooney controlled the ball and got off several shots, including a free kick that narrowly missed.
There wasn’t a moment in the game that Lakeview head coach Nate Mailach relaxed, not until the final second went off of the clock and the Bulldogs rushed the field.
“That clock couldn’t run any faster than it was,” Mailach said. “It seemed like every time I looked up there was three or four minutes left. Our guys stuck together and stuck to the game plan, we play with a lot of heart and stick with what works.”
The Bulldogs broke through with the first goal of the game in the 26th minute of the first half when junior Austin Olbrych powered the ball past Mooney goalie Robert Premec to put Lakeview up by one.
Mooney outshot the Bulldogs 7-4 in the first half, but great goalkeeping by Gavin Clark (four saves) helped Lakeview keep the lead.
Both teams kept up the intensity in the second half, but the fight wasn’t easy because of sloppy field conditions.
“We have been practicing in mud and on narrow fields getting ready for this, but once the game started up we struggled with our touches, especially in the first half,” Mooney head coach Lou Cali Jr. said.
Mailach says he models his team after the Cardinals.
“We want to be just like them,” he said. “They won 10 district titles in a row, but we are gaining ground on them slowly, but surely.”
Clark picked up the win for Lakeview coming up with four saves, which included a game changing save late in the game.