The desire to win: Mooney plays role in leading team during second season

Sophomore midfielder Julie Mooney led the team in scoring last season and was second in shots on goal in 2012. Unfortunately this season an ACL injury has kept her side-lined for most of the season. || Maddie Mucci/The News

Sophomore midfielder Julie Mooney led the team in scoring last season and was second in shots on goal in 2012. Unfortunately this season an ACL injury has kept her side-lined for most of the season. || Maddie Mucci/The News

In her first two years on the team, sophomore midfielder Julie Mooney has proven she can not only compete at the collegiate soccer level but will be a major catalyst in the Racer offense for years to come.

Mooney started playing when she was 4 years old, after her parents signed her up against her will.

“I remember the day,” she said. “My parents didn’t tell me they were signing me up and when they did tell me I started crying because I did not want to play. Ever since then though, I have loved the game.”

The sophomore has shown elite talent throughout her high school and early college career. She earned numerous honors and winning several state titles.

Mooney attended Francis Howell High School in St. Charles, Mo., where she came into her own as a player, starting all four years on the varsity squad. She competed on multiple General Athletic Conference (GAC) district and sectional championship teams throughout high school. Mooney was voted to the 2009 and 2011 GAC First Teams, winning GAC South Player of the Year honors in 2011. She has stood out in the classroom as well, making the 2009, ’10 and ’11 GAC All-Academic teams. Mooney also won three Missouri state titles for the St. Louis Scott-Gallagher Navy club team when she wasn’t playing high school ball.

She said at that point coaches began taking notice of her and Murray State was the clear front-runner in her search to play at the next level, due to its commitment to winning and the camaraderie of the team.

“I chose (Murray State) because I felt that the team was really close and everyone really wanted to win,” she said. “I couldn’t be on a team that doesn’t care if they win or lose. Also, the girls were really nice and I liked the school.”

She adapted to the college game quickly, taking over the offensive reigns in her first year. She lead the team in scoring and points with eight and 18 respectively along with three game-winning goals.

Head Coach Beth Acreman said Mooney’s addition to the roster created a new threat for the Racer offense and gave them a talented ball handler who was able to light up the back of the net at a moment’s notice.

“Obviously as a freshman coming in and scoring goals is a good thing,” Acreman said. “But we’ve really enjoyed seeing her dribble; she’s really crafty on the ball. She cuts the ball really well and is an explosive player. So, it was nice bringing in a player who was new and fresh but also very, very dangerous.”

Mooney added to her extensive trophy case when she earned All-OVC First Team and OVC-Newcomer Team honors in 2011.

“It was a huge honor to make first team, especially as a freshman,” she said. “A lot of other girls on my team were deserving of the award, so I was just grateful to receive it.”

Even with all her success, Mooney has gone through adversity, which caused her to miss considerable playing time in her second season with the Racers.

She tore her ACL in the team’s last spring game, requiring surgery and putting her sophomore season in jeopardy. Mooney said she never gave it too much thought, because she knew she would return to the field before season’s end.

“I was one of the few girls that wasn’t in the training room a lot,” Mooney said. “Then at the last spring event of the year, I, unfortunately, tore my ACL. I had surgery May 17, the day after my birthday. It was definitely hard to go through the ACL surgery and recovery but I made it, and I am already playing again today. I was even released to play four months after surgery and have been playing ever since.”

Mooney finished the fall season second on the team in shots and shots on goal. She scored one goal along with three assists and five points.

“She was our leading goal scorer from last year, so obviously we’ve struggled a little scoring goals,” Acreman said.

“Having her now is great. She’s been frustrated sitting on the sideline but she’s been a good supporter of the team.

And now she’s ready to get back in there and score some goals for us and set up some assists for us, which has been great.”

Acreman said the ceiling is high for Mooney as she looks to help her team move on from this season and on to a great career at Murray State.

“(Her future) is very bright,” Acreman said. “We’re going to keep her fitness high so she can continue being an explosive player and keep her strong in the weight room. Obviously, we need to keep her from getting injured. But we’re really excited to see what she does going into her junior year.”

Mooney mirrored Acreman’s thoughts and said the OVC needs to watch out for the Racers as they begin to reload instead of rebuild for next year.

“Even though we weren’t as successful as we hoped, we are going to train hard in the spring to turn it around for next season,” Mooney said. “Everyone on the team has to have a hate-to-lose attitude because we will win OVC next season.”

Story by Nick Dolan, Staff writer.