MARIEMONT, Ohio — The fall season was historic in many ways, but for Mariemont High School’s soccer team, it was perfect.
No, the circumstances weren’t ideal – playing during a pandemic – but they made something special out of it.
“2020 has been a challenging year, and yet here we have this golden moment – this shiny moment. To sit back and watch these young men, whose high school careers have been impacted [by the pandemic] – something they’ve trained for and played for all their lives comes together in this one beautiful moment,” explained head coach Erik Vanags.
Mariemont won its first-ever state soccer championship on Saturday, in convincing fashion. The Warriors beat Cardinal Mooney, 4-1, in the state championship game.
In fact, Mariemont outscored their opponents in the final three rounds of the state tournament a combined 13-1.
“Everybody had that “team” mentality this year,” said senior defender Kyle Romick. “We said ‘me’ doesn't matter. My interest doesn't matter. What matters is the team.”
Four days after the state title, WCPO Sports Anchor Caleb Noe challenged the team to a penalty kick shootout. Mariemont’s players won the competition.
Caleb – a former goalkeeper himself – had somewhat of a chance on a couple of the shots, but stood no chance on the others.
Even with television cameras surrounding the team, there was no pressure.
“The way they buried [the shots] shows you how well they managed and reacted to the stress all season,” said Vanags.
While the TV competition was fun, the thrill of winning that is no comparison to what the players and coaches felt four days prior.
“When everyone stormed the field is when I felt the expression and emotion,” said Luke Brothers, who led the team in scoring this season.
“I was in shock a little bit,” said Romick. “Then maybe a minute passed, and it hit me – I wouldn’t be playing competitive soccer anymore. I thought to myself, ‘Wow that’s it.’”
Even a perfect season can feel bittersweet in the end – but it’s a season the Mariemont community won’t soon forget.