The feeling of scoring a goal is hard to duplicate, but Medina’s Marisa Scullin doesn’t need to see a shot find the back of the net to get the same thrill.
She gets it every time she clears the ball out of the backline or when she’s isolated one-on-one against an all-state forward and knocks the ball away.
Scullin made a career of finding joy in the misfortunes of opposing strikers — something that helped her become one of the state’s best defenders as the Bees advanced to regionals for the first time since 2009.
The attitude earned her first-team All-Ohio and Greater Akron District Player of Year accolades. It also earned her Gazette MVP in the sport.
“I’ve always liked being the sweeper,” Scullin said. “I think it compares to being the one up top scoring goals. My favorite part is when there’s a breakdown and someone can’t get to (the ball) and I come out of nowhere to save it.
“The rush is equal to scoring a goal. I like saving it and keeping it out.”
It was the 5-foot-3 center back’s calling card.
From chasing down forwards in transition to clearing the ball to directing teammates as they compete against some of the top attacks in the state, Scullin was one of a kind.
“She’s a great individual player,” Medina coach Doug Coreno said. “She’s fast, aggressive, tough on tackles, tough one-v-one and very intelligent.
“She knows how to read the game and position herself, which is essential for a center back.”
If anyone doubts the way Scullin impacted a game, all they need to do is look at her resume.
The 17-year-old was in the varsity rotation since her freshman season, playing outside back on the 2009 team that won the Division I state title. She also played in numerous tournaments with her Cleveland Futbol Club team, where she has seen some of the best players in the nation.
This fall, Scullin faced 15 All-Ohio forwards, allowing just two goals. Only one came in the run of play, and the other was off a direct kick.
“For me, I really don’t look at the name or the all the hype,” she said. “It’s good to know who they are, but I just think of them as another person.”
Not too shabby for a player who was half the size of most of the players she matched up with on a daily basis.
“I hear that a lot,” Scullin said with a laugh. “People always say, ‘Oh, my gosh. Look at you compared to the other girls,’ There’s something intimidating playing against them, but once you see the ball come to you, it doesn’t matter what your height is.”
Scullin is no stranger to playing at a high level.
The Slippery Rock recruit has played with CFC in the offseason, including State Cup championship teams and made a handful of trips to the USYS Midwest Regionals.
Scullin’s experience helped her play outside back until her junior year, when she took control of the defense from the center position.
“She’s played at a high level since a young age, so there’s nothing she hasn’t seen,” Coreno said. “Being on the state championship team as a freshman, being in the locker room and in our rotation on the backline, she knows just how tough it is. She’s brought a wealth of experience to our team.”
She was instrumental in Medina’s march to the Brunswick D-I District championship and helped the Bees hold Westlake scoreless in their regional semifinal win. Scullin also gave Medina a fighting chance when it squared off with eventual state champion Perrysburg for a regional title.
She even had the game-deciding assist in the overtime victory over Westlake to secure a spot in the Elite Eight.
Most importantly, she was the leader of a defense that started a handful of underclassmen and overcame adversity at the beginning of the season to finish strong.
“What I learned from the older girls (when I was a freshman) was that if things are going bad, don’t let it get it to you,” Scullin said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about if we won, but it’s about the experience.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.