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Area soccer teams set for season openers

Cardinal Mooney High School’s boys soccer team went 7-1-1 in its last nine games in the 2019 season before being eliminated by Division III state semifinalist South Range in a Niles District semifinal.

The Cardinals had high hopes coming into the 2020 season, coming off its first winning season since 2014. Second-year coach Matt Britton, who mentored Maplewood to a district championship in 2015, had his team on track for a great offseason workout plan.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit and wiped out all in-person sports from mid March until June. Preseason tournaments and scrimmages were eliminated as well.

The Cardinals and other soccer teams around the area had exciting news on Tuesday.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced contact sports — football, soccer and field hockey — could join volleyball, tennis, golf and cross country in school vs. school competition starting Friday, following the state-mandated guidelines.

This Friday, Cardinal Mooney opens its season at Cuyahoga Valley-Christian Academy.

“They’ve had to scrimmage against the same people for two months now,” Britton said. “It gets a little strenuous seeing the same person every day. It’ll be good for them to see a different face across the ball.”

Hubbard High School boys soccer coach Cory Reinard has built up the Eagles program the last few seasons through offseason travel programs, even coaching the Eagles to a Division II regional title game in 2018.

Reinard said his team has done its best to prepare for Tuesday’s opener at West Branch.

His players have been holding intrasquad scrimmages every Wednesday for the past six weeks. It’s one of many things the Eagles are doing this offseason.

“Definitely try to keep them engaged, have them do game analysis stuff, designing their own training sessions,” Reinard said. “Just different options for them to stay engaged with the team and the development.”

Scrimmages and other head-to-head competition prepares teams for Week 1, he said.

“Game speed is completely different than training speed,” Reinard said. “We’re going to answer a lot of questions in those first couple of games, what’s working, what’s not. Everything we worked on the past couple of months. Is it clicking now or is it tweak this or tweak that? Confident they’re ready for it.”

Mooney is prepared for Friday’s opener as well.

“To finish as we did, just based on ourselves, our expectations are high,” Britton said. “We have to live up to that. We’ve been working since June, since we’ve been cleared to come back. They’ve had a goal set in mind where they want to be. They’ve been working every day at it. It shows.”

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