Kevin Goheen reports:
Mason hadn’t given up more than two goals in any soccer game this season. Olentangy Liberty had scored three or more goals in 17 of its 21 games coming into Wednesday night’s Division I state semifinal at Miami Valley South Stadium.
Mason maintained its stat but it wasn’t enough to push the Comets to a state championship game appearance.
Senior forward Jared Robinson’s shot from 10 yards in front of the net found the back of the goal with 4:44 remaining in regulation to give Olentangy Liberty a 1-0 victory and send the Patriots back to the state final for a second straight season.
Mason, ranked No. 10 in the final state coaches’ poll, was playing in its first state semifinal. The Comets end their season 18-3-1. Second-ranked Liberty improves to 21-1 and will face unranked Sylvania Southview (17-3-2) Saturday night at 7 at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Robinson, who gave up playing for the Columbus Crew’s academy team to join continue playing for his high school team, mishit an initial shot attempt. The Mason defense couldn’t clear the ball, however, and it ended up back on his foot. Mason senior goalkeeper Pedro Diaz moved in the right direction but Robinson buried the shot into the upper left corner.
“It comes down to they were on us a lot of the time and they were going to get past us at some point,” said Diaz. “I think we gave 100 percent. It was wonderful. Everyone gave their best. We just got unlucky.”
Liberty entered the game having scored 95 goals.
“They have the firepower and the talent to make you pay if you give them openings,” said Mason coach Paul Reedy. “I just can’t say enough about how hard we played. The ball took a tough bounce. That’s tough to account for with your defense. They were there and it was a good shot.”
Diaz ended up making seven saves in the game, the first one coming 30 seconds into the contest on a hard, low shot by senior Zach Matheny that Diaz dove to stop. Liberty continued the pressure more than that stat indicates. The Patriots had five corners to just one for Mason in the first half, all coming in the first 18 minutes.
Play evened out some in the second half, although Liberty still had the better offensive chances. Junior Jack Clark, who led Mason with 20 goals this season, had a couple of chances at one-time volleys but never got a real chance.
“I think we just found the confidence that we could play with this team and put them under pressure,” said Reedy. “We got to the final third in the second half but we really couldn’t create the type of chance that you need. That’s a credit to them. They’re good. They’re not just an offensive team. They have some good defenders as well.”
Mason had been 15-0-1 since its last defeat, a 1-0 loss against Centerville on Sept. 8. The Comets were attempting to duplicate the state semifinal win by the girls’ team at the same stadium one night previous.
It has happened only eight times, the last time in 2006 by Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit. Turpin was the first school to achieve the feat when both of its teams won state titles in 1986.
“We knew it was going to be a close game from the start,” said Robinson, who has committed to Evansville. “We were unlucky to not finish some of those chances in the first half, because we owned them. We dominated. Unfortunately we didn’t finish those chances, but we still got the win.”
Division I state semifinal
Olentangy Liberty 1, Mason 0.
Goal: Robinson. Shutout: deAndrade (1 save). Records: Mason 18-3-1, Olentangy Liberty 21-1.