Lunka scores four in Kirtland’s win over Columbia

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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.”

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.