Meridian Takes Home 2023 State Soccer Title

Falls Church’s Meridian High School Mustangs boys soccer team won the state championship last weekend in a defensive slugfest that went scoreless through both halves of regulation, two five-minute overtimes, two more sudden death overtimes, finally decided by the very last penalty kick. Mustang goalkeeper Inigo Diz was the hero, completing the state tournament allowing nary a single regulation goal across any of the three final games,

It was a back-and-forth affair between Meridian and the Charlottesville Black Knights, who’d knocked out defending champion Tabb in what would’ve been a rematch from last year.

Both teams saw plenty of scoring chances during regulation. The Mustangs held the edge in the possession battle but Charlottesville seemed to generate more high-danger opportunities. However none of them could get past Diz and his stingy defensive support. Then, after Meridian made its first four of five penalty shots but was stopped on the fifth, Charlottesville had a chance to tie the game but Diz made one more save, the most important one of the day.

The Meridian High School Boys Soccer team took home the 2023 state title last weekend in a close match that was decided on PKs. (Photo: Shawna Russell.)

“I felt like (Argentinian goalkeeper) Emiliano Martinez,” said Diz, referencing the World Cup champion. “It’s all just mind games (on the penalty shots), you can’t let it get into your head.”

Diz is one of nine seniors on the Meridian championship squad, which has finished the year with a record of 18-3-1, winning its last eight games. The Mustangs never lost again after a 2-1 loss at Manassas Park on April 21, which dropped them to 5-3 at the time, as their only other non-win moving forward was a tie – also against Manassas Park – at home on May 9. Meridian was helped during the postseason by Manassas Park and Tabb both being eliminated by other opponents, and the Mustangs pounced on the opportunity provided for them.

“There are no words to describe how much it means to these kids,” said Meridian head coach Nathan Greiner after the state title win “They’ve overcome so much adversity… it’s the only fitting way for this season to end.”

Meridian’s athletic programs are no strangers to success at the state level. But every class is different, and for those involved in the 2023 boys’ soccer team’s special run, it’s one they’ll never forget.