Kevin Goheen reports:
Mason scored two quick goals and then maintained ball possession and offensive pressure throughout in a 3-0 victory against Mercy Tuesday night in a Division I girls’ soccer sectional final at Winton Woods.
Junior Alex Niehoff and sophomore Jill Vetere scored 28 seconds apart from each other in the opening three minutes of the game to set the tone of the match. Freshman goalie Toni Bizzarro made eight saves as Mason recorded its 12th shutout of the season and advanced to a district championship match against Troy Saturday at 2 p.m. at Lakota East.
Troy beat Springboro 1-0 in overtime Tuesday night.
The Comets, ranked No. 1 in the final Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll and No. 1 seed in the Cincinnati sectional, are now 16-1-1. Mercy, the No. 9 seed, ends its season at 10-4-4.
“Those goals were huge. I always think when you’re the quote-unquote favorite in a game like this the weight of the world comes off of you when you score early,” said Mason coach Andy Schur. “We played relaxed the rest of the time. You can get a little tight in games like this and I was proud of how we reacted in not giving up a ton of chances. We stayed sound defensively and didn’t let them come back from 2-0. That can change quickly.”
Niehoff opened the scoring with her eighth goal of the season, an easy one-time tap in off a throw in just two minutes, 21 seconds into the game.
Vetere made it 2-0 with a strong strike from 15 yards out 28 seconds later. It was her ninth goal of the season.
Bizzarro and the Comets’ defense didn’t see much action in the first half as Mason kept possession much of the half. Mercy had two shots on goal, both off of free kicks. Senior Arynn Zwergel had the Bobcats’ best opportunity of the half but Bizzarro made a diving stop of a hard shot by Zwergel’s after the initial free kick had been blocked.
Mason has only given up nine goals all season. This was the first time Bizzarro played the entire game. In every other game junior Kelsey Harris had replaced Bizzarro at halftime.
Senior Jami Pfeiffer added her 15th goal of the season 3:30 into the second half for the final score of the game. She took a pass from Sami Rutowski in stride and pushed the ball to the far corner of the net past Mercy goalie Julia Kennedy from about 15 yards out. Rutowski’s pass split two defenders before getting to Pfeiffer.
“It was an awesome pass from Sami so if I had missed it I probably would have had to apologize,” said Pfeiffer. “We went into the second half with the lead scoring that third one just put (the game) away.”
MASON 3, MERCY 0
Goals: Niehoff, Vetere, Pfeiffer. Shutout: Bizzaro (8 saves).
Records: Mason 16-1-1; Mercy 10-4-4.