SPRINGFIELD – For the better part of the 93 minutes played at Springfield’s Evans Stadium Wednesday night, Olentangy Liberty boys soccer coach Marc D’Auteuil felt like his team played better.
But, Jordan Walter took advantage of an empty net with 2:04 left in overtime to give Cincinnati Moeller a 1-0 win in a Division I state semifinal.
Sam Hegge found space on the left side and was able to center to Walter through a scrum that included the Liberty goalkeeper.
“It all happened in an instant,” D’Auteuil said. “Our outside backer dove in … and the guy got around the edge and they were able to pick it out of a scrum.”
Walter pounded the game-winner into an empty net to send the Crusaders (19-1-3) to the state championship for the first time in school history.
“Moeller is a proud athletic school and for us to put another sport to have a chance to play for a state championship – it’s just awesome,” Moeller coach Mike Welker said.
Walter had just substituted in on the previous stoppage.
“We practice that play a lot,” Welker said. “We go wide and bring it back across. It’s always nice when what you work on in practice pays off. I made a sub right before that too with (Walter) – so that makes me look like a genius. It’s great when it all works out that way.”
Liberty had an 11-6 advantage in shots for the game, but only three of those were on goal with Moeller goalkeeper Cal Collins making the save each time.
Theran Handlon had three saves for the Patriots (18-3), who lost a 2-1 game to Moeller earlier in the season.
“I’m proud of our kids and the fight tonight and the work-rate,” D’Auteuil said.
Liberty held possession for much of the first half with seven shots, though it only forced one save by Collins.
“They just kept the ball really well,” Walter said. “We’ve possessed the ball really well this tournament, but today – we didn’t as well. But, I think we had the better chances on goal and it paid off.”
Moeller only got two shots on goal. But, those two shots forced Handlon to work. He had to leap to make a save on an Adam Cusmano shot in the seventh minute and dove to stop a Connor Andrews shot in the 30th minute.
“I thought we deserved to win,” D’Auteuil said. “I thought we were the better team. But, that’s not always the case in soccer. We were on the other end of winning a game in OT the other day and we’re on the losing end today.”
The Patriots held a 3-1 advantage in shots in the second half, but none of those shots were on goal. They also had three corners – all after halftime – that didn’t bear fruit.
“I was pretty confident we were going to get one because we had better play for the last 60 minutes of play,” D’Auteuil said. “Unfortunately, we made a mistake in the back and they punished us for it – which a good team does … and they’re a good team.”
Next up, Moeller faces Medina, which also won 1-0 in overtime, for a state championship at MAPFRE Stadium Saturday at a time to be determined.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.