Mooney’s quest ends in 4-1 loss
Three quick goals in second half lift Mariemont in final
COLUMBUS — A rush of goals early in the second half proved to be the difference as Cardinal Mooney fell, 4-1, to Cincinnati Mariemont in the Division III boys soccer state championship game on Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium.
“I’m extremely proud of this group,” second-year Cardinals coach Matthew Britton said. “I can’t say enough about them, our six seniors, and this is a group with six underclassmen. Not many times you make it this far starting six underclassmen.
“I’m so extremely proud of this group.”
Mooney earned its third silver trophy in program history, last appearing in a state final in 2005.
“I’m proud of how we played,” Cardinals senior Brian Philibin said. “We worked hard the whole game. That other team was bigger, faster, stronger than us, but at the end of the day, it’s the game of soccer.
“It’s tough to take this loss but we’re very proud to make it here. It’s been 15 years and we’re back in this position. I’m just so proud of the way we fought and the pride we played with today.”
The teams traded chances back-and-forth for a majority of the first half with neither team able to break through.
With six minutes remaining in the first half, that seal finally broke and the Warriors were able to slip a shot past freshman goalkeeper Aidan Markey. That score by Mariemont senior Jimmy Sauter was the first goal the Cardinals had conceded the entire tournament, and broke a seven-game shutout streak.
The Warriors fired off their three remaining goals within a 10-minute span.
Luke Brothers scored back-to-back goals within 40 seconds of each other to put Mariemont up 3-0. With momentum fully on their side, Mariemont junior defender Henry Buck put the icing on the cake with an additional goal to extend the lead to 4-0.
In the final minutes of the game, the Cardinals were able to burn Mariemont’s clean sheet as senior Justin Durkin scored with assists from Philibin and Petros Atsas for Mooney’s only score of the afternoon.
The Cardinals have made an impressive turnaround, being just two years removed from a four-win season. When Britton took over the program he instilled a culture change that paid off.
“It’s a good feeling because, like we talked about before, 17 months ago this was a four-win team and 17 months later we’re playing for a state championship,” Britton said. “I’ve been blessed to be the leader of this program and I’m looking to take it even further.”
The Cardinals graduate six seniors, and end their season at 16-3-4.
Mooney is returning eight starters going into next year. Philibin says he wouldn’t be surprised if Mooney makes a return trip next season.
“We’ve dealt with a lot of hardships this whole year, with COVID and individual personal stuff that’s been going on with people,” Philibin said. “Throughout the season we fought with each other and we butted heads, but in any day that’s what you want because every single one of us on this team is a competitor. We’re here to compete and I think that showed.
“Being here shows how competitive this group of boys are and I won’t be surprised if they’re back in this position next year.”