KIRTLAND—Jeremy Lunka scored four goals and Marko Cubela added another to lead Kirtland to a 5-0 non-conference win over visiting Columbia at Recreation Park on Monday.
The margin of victory allowed Kirtland head coach John Valentic to clear his bench to continue to build depth for the upcoming postseason.
“I think it helps a lot,” Valentic said of the playing time his backups earned on Monday. “That’s been one of our strengths all season is the depth we have on this team and the confidence that I have. The guys that play more tend to be a little bit more consistent but I don’t have any doubt on the guys coming off the bench and I really have faith in them.”
Lunka did the bulk of the damage for the Hornets, who improved to 10-1-3 on the year, but the offense had many other scoring opportunities.
“Our emphasis the past two weeks has been shooting and creating chances in the offensive third,” Valentic said. “Defensively, obviously, we’re doing really, really well with a lot of shutouts. The rest of the way is about creating chances in the offensive third and getting shots on target and obviously, you need a little bit of luck.”
Ante Bevanda, John Raguz, Josip Mijic-Barisic and Mario Rodin each assisted on goals for the Hornets.
Tyler Banyasz recorded two saves in collecting his 10th clean sheet of the season.
“What else can you say and that’s been against good teams, too,” Valentic said of the defense. “We’ve done really well. I couldn’t be happier.”
The Hornets travel to West Geauga on Thursday then close out the regular season on Saturday against Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.
Kirtland earned the top seed in the Division III Gates Mills District and will open postseason play on Saturday, Oct. 20 against the winner of the sectional semifinal between No. 8 VASJ and No. 9 Berkshire.
“I don’t care what the seeds are, it’s just a different animal,” Valentic said of the postseason. “Teams are going to be better organized and they’re going to know us. There are no secrets to be discovered. It should be fun the rest of the way.”