Lidia Rodin’s well-placed free kick in the 33rd minute proved to be all Kirtland would need to defeat Archbold in a Division III state semifinal at Strobel Field in Sandusky on Tuesday.
The Hornets defeated the Blue Streaks 1-0 to advance to the state championship game for the second straight season.
“When you graduate nine and people around you question how you’re going to get back, I looked at the group of girls we had and it’s a phrase people use, we don’t rebuild, we simply reload now,” Kirtland coach Ed Bradac said. “It’s such a nice thing. We have great kids that love the sport because of the kids that came before them. It’s an awesome feeling and I’m really happy for the girls. They really wanted to win.”
With the match tied 0-0, the Hornets drew a free kick in the far right corner. Rodin stepped up and placed the ball just inside the net on the far post.
“Pure bliss,” Rodin said when asked for her reaction upon seeing the ball tickle the twine. “I wanted the goal so bad for my team and especially my seniors.”
Rodin used a gusting wind to her advantage.
“The wind was helping me with my shot without a doubt,” Rodin said. “I knew the direction and the power of it, so I knew exactly where to put the ball in order to score.”
The goal was just the ninth allowed by Archbold in 22 games.
“They had 10 back in the box and I told the girls this was a scenario where we couldn’t go down 1-0 like we have against other teams,” Bradac said. “It would have been very difficult to get the equalizer because of the way they defend.”
Kirtland had another opportunity to score early in the second half when Erika Zschuppe bounced an indirect kick off the crossbar.
The Hornets, however, were up to the challenge on defense and shut down the Blue Streaks to record their 10th shutout of the season.
“We played as a team and it was one of the best first halves we’ve started with in a while,” senior sweeper Emily Ungrady said. “We were fast from the first whistle. We defend as 11. The forwards and midfield did a great job possessing the ball, which makes our job in the back a lot easier. In the back, we were focusing on being calm and composed to get the job done. But, as I said before when the forwards and midfield do the amazing job they do, there’s not much left for us to do.”
In advancing to the state championship game for the second straight season, the Hornets also recorded their first 20-win season in school history.
Kirtland improved to 20-2 on the year.
“Everybody looks at last year when we were 15-5-3,” Bradac said. “We’ve had more wins in a season. We set the school record earlier this year when we hit 18 but we weren’t playing for the regular season. We were playing for a conference title, which we won, a No. 1 seed and a deep run in the postseason. Now, this is familiar territory. Last year was not familiar at all. It’s a different feeling going back.”
The Hornets will play Cincinnati Country Day (19-2) in the state championship game at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus on Friday at 1:00 p.m.
“It’s so exciting to get back,” Rodin said. “We’ve been saying it since June, ‘We’re going back to states,’ and here we are. We have some unfinished business that we need to take care of. I couldn’t be happier.”