Mariemont girls soccer knocks off Madeira, advances to 1st-ever regional final
By Shelby Dermer, Cincinnati Enquirer
This article first appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Oct. 29, 2019. Click here to see the article on the Enquirer site.
NORWOOD - Mike Haney was all too familiar with the regional semifinal round.
Five times over his 22-year career as the head coach of Mariemont girls soccer, Haney had to deliver a sorrowful end-of-the-year speech to his team after falling one round shy of the regional championship.
But Tuesday was different for the veteran coach. Mariemont, tabbed as the No. 9 Division-III team in Ohio in the final Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll, beat Madeira, 2-1, to advance to the program's first-ever regional championship game appearance.
"I get emotional," Haney said. "It's just a wave of emotions still hitting me. It's very surreal. We've been saying all season that this team is special. There's just something about the chemistry, the talent, their will when they take the field — there's just something special about this team. I couldn't be more proud."
Senior captain Myah Giordullo added: "There's so much energy and we're just so excited to move on. It's the furthest Mariemont women's soccer has ever been and we're just excited and ready to work hard again."
It was Giordullo, a central defender, who delivered what would turn out to be the game-winning goal to send the Warriors to uncharted territory. With 18:59 left in regulation, a Mariemont throw-in caused a deflection. The ball trickled to Giordullo, who hammered home the go-ahead goal — her fourth of the season — from just beyond the penalty mark.
"Ellie (Poindexter) just played it back to me and I was able to stay over the ball and it went over the goalie's hands," Giordullo said. "I'm usually centre back so I'm not used to scoring goals like that. I don't think I've ever had a goal that big."
Mariemont (11-3-6) seemed to control the entirety of the game, spending the majority of the clock on the offensive in Madeira territory. But the Warriors could not find the net in the first half and when they made one of their few first-half mistakes, Madeira (10-7-4) was there to capitalize.
Sophomore forward Ana Garcia notched her 15th goal of the season to open the game's scoring, lifting a header over the outstretched arms of Mariemont goalie Erika Dewey for the only tally of the first half.
Despite the slip-up and one-goal deficit at the intermission, Mariemont's confidence never wavered.
"At halftime we told them, 'girls, we just controlled 39 of 40 minutes.' We were gonna keep doing what we've been doing. We just had to work through it. It came down to heart and desire," Haney said. "They played through it."
Less than four minutes into the second half, Mariemont found the equalizer off a free kick when senior forward Marly Megowen finished off a free kick that was driven deep into the Madeira box.
Madeira would only threaten a few more times in game's final 10-plus minutes, but Mariemont's defense, which has allowed only two goals this postseason, was there to thwart any comeback attempt.
Haney was positive this game would be a low-scoring battle of attrition between two Cincinnati Hills League rivals. Two of their last four meetings with the Amazons resulted in a tie, including a scoreless draw earlier this month.
"It's that type of game every season," Haney said. "Madeira is one of the toughest teams to play against. They play as hard as any team we've ever played and they are the most disciplined team we'll play all year. We knew it was gonna be a one-goal game that comes down to somebody just giving that extra effort."
Adding to the nostalgic shared along the Mariemont sideline after the clock hit all zeroes were the trials faced by the squad just a few short months ago. Burdened by an arduous early-season schedule, Mariemont won just one of its first six games. Haney's message since the 1-3-2 start was collectively received and the Warriors are 9-0-4 ever since.
"Our schedule was front-loaded with probably the toughest teams. Our message to the girls was, 'just stick to the plan.' They stuck to the plan and here we are," Haney said.
Mariemont will now battle defending state-champion Cincinnati Country Day — 6-1 winners over Lehman Catholic Tuesday night — in Saturday's D-III regional final with a trip to the state Final Four on the line. The unbeaten Indians (17-0-2) blanked Mariemont 2-0 back on Aug. 24.