BEACHWOOD—Jeremy Lunka scored two goals to lead Kirtland to a 4-0 win at Beachwood in a key Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division game for the visiting Hornets.
The win was the first for the Hornets on Beachwood’s turf field, installed in 2016.
“We’re comfortable on the turf,” said Kirtland coach John Valentic. “I think it suits our style and what we try to do. Today we were on. I think the biggest factor was that we came with an aggression and a desire and the rest of it took care of itself.”
Lunka dictated the tone early as he pressured the Beachwood defense throughout the game.
His first goal came on a breakaway with 22:49 left in the first half.
“He is dangerous,” Valentic said. “He is always a threat. He has speed and can finish. He gets himself into good positions and I would not want to defend against him.”
Lunka also set up Kirtland’s goal a minute later when he fired a shot directly at Beachwood keeper Yoni Chajmovic. Mario Rodin tapped in the deflection to give the Hornets a 2-0 lead.
The goal was the sixth of the year for Rodin.
“He was in the right place at the right time,” Valentic said of Rodin. “He has a nose for the goal. He did something similar against Wickliffe with a put-back that got us to tie. That’s something you can’t teach.”
Lunka needed just 14 seconds at the start of the second half to push the Kirtland lead to 3-0.
Ethan Garcia set up a play the two have worked on to create quick-strike opportunities and it worked as Lunka found himself one-on-one with Chajmovic.
“Me and Ethan have practiced that for a while off the kickoff,” Lunka said. “The middle played the long ball over the top to me. I got to it first, poked it away from the keeper and put it in.”
John Sayle scored his first career goal in the 63rd minute to close out the scoring.
Chajmovic recorded seven saves for the Bison, who dropped to 4-4 overall and 2-1 in league play. Kirtland’s Tyler Banyasz finished with three saves in notching his seventh clean sheet in eight games for the Hornets, who improved to 6-0-2, 2-0-1.
“If you told me that we were only going to give up one goal in eight games and it would be a penalty kick, I wouldn’t have bet a dollar,” Valentic said. “This is good defending. We’re organized and communicate. It could be cleaner but one goal in eight games, I don’t now that we’ve ever done that since I’ve been here.”
The win set the Hornets up for Tuesday’s showdown against Independence with the winner taking control of first place in the race for the Valley Division title.