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    Hornets ride Dures to district title

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    STREETSBORO—Evan Dures scored four goals in leading Kirtland to a 6-1 win over Hanoverton United in a Division III district championship game on Saturday.

    The district title was the fourth straight for the Hornets.

    “We have the talent and we have the understanding, knowledge, and experience, so it’s just a matter of executing on game day,” said Kirtland coach John Valentic. “We want the boys to feel confident and good and get excited about playing and the rest will take care of itself. It’s a tournament, so you don’t know what’s going to happen or how it’s going to play out, but you could see today, and even in the last game, what we’re capable of.”

    With the win, Kirtland improved to 17-2-1 and the Hornets have the potential to make an even deeper run through the postseason now that the team is nearing full strength.

    Injuries kept the Hornets from playing their best 11 for most of the season. Several key players are now back in the lineup and that’s bad news for future Kirtland opponents.

    “It’s a relief, No. 1,” Valentic said. “No. 2, we’re going to be hard to manage and hard to deal with as far as who to focus on because, I’m not going to tell you who, there are sleepers on this team who are still coming. If you focus on some of the more obvious ones, you’ll still be punished.”

    Dures is one of the Hornets who missed games this season but he made his presence felt early and often against the Golden Eagles.

    He broke a scoreless tie in the first half with his powerful strike from the left corner that gave Kirtland a 1-0 lead with 27:53 left in the opening half.

    Dures added a second goal three minutes later.

    “Throughout the week after our last game, I didn’t have the performance I wanted, so we’ve been working hard at practice and I came out ready to play,” Dures said.

    Dures then assisted on a Marco Valentic goal with 12:59 left in the half that gave the Hornets a 3-0 advantage at the break. He added his third goal four minutes into the second half and punched in his fourth with 28:20 remaining in the game.

    “I think we came out a little more flat but then we woke up in the second half again,” Dures said. “We didn’t start as strong as we did in the first, but we fixed that quickly.”

    Valentic closed out the Kirtland scoring with a well-placed shot through a pair of United defenders.

    The Golden Eagles scored with 15 minutes left to deny the Hornets a shutout.

    Kirtland advanced to the regional semifinals, where they’ll play Andrews-Osborne Academy on Wednesday at a location to be determined.

    The Hornets beat the Phoenix in the regular season, 4-0.

    “I think now that we know a little bit more about them because we had really no idea how they were going to play, but now we know and we know how to adjust with it,” Dures said. “We’re on a good roll right now, coming out strong so I think they’re going to get a good game.”

    Kirtland defeated Andrews-Osborne in the 2019 and 2020 district championship games by identical 3-2 scores.

    The Hornets expect a similar challenge this season.

    “It’s going to be tough,” Valentic said. “They’re well-coached and this is a whole new season. That (regular-season game) was six weeks ago. That’s a whole different lifetime and they’ll be ready to go and it will be a challenge, but I feel good with what we’re going to bring.”

     

    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    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.

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