Gilmour girls turn off Mooney goal machine
By Greg Gulas
The Cardinal Mooney girls soccer team breezed through the Austintown district, outscoring opponents 38-2 to punch a regional ticket.
It was Gilmour Academy, however, that put on the offensive show in the regional semifinals.
Kacie McPeek had two goals and five other Lancers added a goal as they defeated the Cardinals 7-1 on Tuesday night at Solon High School’s Stewart Field.
The Lancers will now play the winner of the Ashland Mapleton — which defeated Champion 2-0 in another semifinal — in a regional final on Saturday at a site yet to be determined.
It didn’t take the Cardinals long to get on the board — just 91 seconds, in fact.
Elizabeth Philibin found Breanna Evans deep in Lancers territory, her pass clearing two Gilmour defenders which allowed Evans to bury the game’s first scoring opportunity past goalie Kendra Barlow for a 1-0 lead.
It was Evans’ 39th goal of the season.
“They were pretty good defensively and we had a hard time splitting their defense all night,” Evans said. “I was just able to slip the ball past their goalie after an excellent pass from Liz.”
The Cardinals were unable to hold the lead, however, after two starters — Philibin and Caroline Buchenic — went down with injuries and did not return the rest of the way.
“The hard part was that we scored first, had momentum and possession and then had two players go down and not return,” Mooney head coach Frank Sikich said. “Liz and Caroline are our two senior leaders, both are captains and all-district selections, so to lose them after just 20 minutes of play and not get them back really hurt. With them out, we had just one senior and one junior out there the rest of the way and I must commend them because they an excellent job overall.”
Gilmour tied the game when Izzy Greene slipped her shot past Cardinal Mooney goalie Skyler Huda at the 28:45 mark. The Lancers took the lead for good at the 12:08 mark when McPeek notched the first of her two goals for a 2-1 margin.
McPeek then added her second goal at 9:40 for a 3-1 advantage and after she found Alyssa Behrend with a pass at 8:04, Gilmour opened a 4-1 lead heading to intermission.
The Lancers (19-1) came into the game having scored 70 goals, allowing just eight overall with 13 shutouts to their credit.
Cardinal Mooney scored on its only shot taken in the opening half while the Lancers connected on three of seven attempts.
“I thought we were a little nervous at the outset, but once we settled down and played our game you saw what happened,” Gilmour head coach Joe Ciuni said. “We’re actually a pretty balanced team so it’s not that rare for us to have five or six players score goals for us in a game.”
McPeek’s two goals now give her 12 on the season.
“After that first goal by Cardinal Mooney, we just got together and knew we had to settle down. If we played our game, the rest would just fall into place,” McPeek said. “We knew that it would be an intense game, but saw the outside lanes pretty much wide open and that’s what we tried to exploit.”
Gilmour made it 5-1 at 15:48 of the second half when Allie Breen — assisted by Grace Mullen — scored. The Lancers’ sixth goal came at 10:29 when Cora Grunden scored on a breakaway.
Gilmour finished the scoring at 8:21 on Marissa Salvino’s goal.
The Cardinals end the season 16-4 while the Lancers advance to the programs’ first ever regional championship contest.
Gilmour held a 15-3 shots on goal advantage.