By ERIC FORTUNE
The Cardinal Mooney girls soccer team controlled the speed and tempo of Monday’s Division III district semifinal, scoring four goals in the first 11 minutes en route to an 8-4 victory over visiting Columbiana.
It was a valuable lesson for the Clippers, who knew they had to keep their eyes on Juliana Vazquez. By the time Columbiana got an extra body on her, it was too late as she scored three of the Cardinals’ first four goals.
“I don’t think they knew how good they would have to stick on her,” Columbiana coach Darcy Quinlan said. “After the first goal, we figured we needed at least one girl on her the entire time and she still got her goals. She’s an amazing player — best in the area. We knew she would get her goals; we weren’t figuring it would be six goals.”
Vazquez finished with six goals and one assist.
Mooney led 4-0 at halftime with a 20-2 edge in shots.
Still, Columbina’s Skye Kramer presented some challenges with her speed getting the Clippers on the board at the 33:23 mark to make it 5-1.
“She does a great job of that,” Quinlan said. “She knows if she gets the ball with a defender on her back that most of the time she can turn with her speed and beat them if not with her foot skills also. Having her up front has been a blessing for us all year.”
She finished with four goals to lead the Clippers.
“I was very pleased with the first half,” Cardinal Mooney coach Frank Sikich said. “We played smart defensively. We played very tight in the back. I think sometimes when you get that large lead, you loosen up. That’s what happened to us in the second half. We got a little lackadaisical. We got maybe overconfident. Those things happen.”
Less than five minutes after Kramer’s goal, Elizabeth Philbin and Vazquez scored minutes apart to up the advantage to 7-1 and seal the victory for the Cardinals.
“The girls have never really experienced a team as skilled as Mooney,” Quinlan said. “They came out and they just weren’t prepared for their skill set. Part of that is definitely my fault. At halftime, we had a talk about taking those minutes back and starting fresh in the second half.”
The Cardinals advanced to the district final, where they will host United at 7 p.m. Thursday.
With a couple of days off, Sikich sees room for improvement as he felt his team got complacent.
“Going forward, when you hit these games coming up, you can’t have that,” Sikich said.