MENTOR—Kirtland and Elyria Catholic both had something to prove in Monday’s Division III district semifinal at Mentor High School.
Unfortunately for the visiting Panthers, the Hornets punched in an early goal and never slowed down in a 5-0 win.
“We scored early and we scored often and then we pulled our starters and left here with a good 5-0 victory,” Kirtland coach Ed Bradac said.
The Hornets, who improved to 14-1-1, drew the No. 2 seed in the district despite earning a state-ranking higher than that of any other team in the bracket.
Elyria Catholic head coach Mike Besu voted the Hornets the top seed in the district but that didn’t stop him from choosing the option to play the Hornets early in the postseason.
“There is something to be said about that,” Bradac said. “It shows that they’re willing to take on our team. We were seeded two and you could argue we should have been seeded one based on where we were ranked in the state of Ohio, but that’s neither here nor there. I think for me, what it shows, what I believe was the third-best team in that super district came to play us.”
Besu had reason to be optimistic.
His Panthers entered the game with an 11-5-1 mark but their lack of success against Kirtland continued as the Hornets have now won three straight postseason games against Elyria Catholic by a combined score of 14-0.
Aria Evans-Roskos gave Kirtland a very early lead when she headed in a Giuliana Vladic corner kick just one minute, 19 seconds into the game.
Evans-Roskos later converted a penalty kick but Bradac knows the Hornets will have to become more efficient on finishing off set pieces if they hope to achieve their goals.
“We continue to stress the importance at this time every year of set pieces,” Bradac said. “Can you finish on set pieces? I really wish we would have scored on a few more. We had the penalty kick and the cross to begin with but we had some free kicks that we’ve got to work on. We’ve got to do better. We can’t waste those opportunities.”
Erika Zschuppe scored two first-half goals to give the Hornets a 3-0 lead at the break. She added another in the second half to go along with Evans-Roskos PK.
Corinne Aquila recorded her ninth shutout of the season and her second straight in the playoffs, but the Panthers had their chances.
It’s those defensive breakdowns that worry Bradac.
“We can go all the way back to the game at West Geauga where we bumped in and they scored early to make it 1-0 and then we had to battle for 77 minutes,” he said. “We need to avoid those situations because you’re not going to have a second chance.”
Kirtland advanced to a fourth straight district championship game. The Hornets host Fairless on Thursday.