WARSAW—Kirtland’s girls’ soccer team pulled off its best Hickory Hoosiers impression when they defeated West Virginia powerhouse Parkersburg South at the River View Labor Day Showcase on Monday, 3-0.
The Hoosiers were a fictional basketball team from the movie of the same name loosely based on the 1954 Milan High School squad that won the 1954 Indiana state title by defeating South Bend Central, a school with a much larger enrollment.
Parkersburg South’s enrollment of 1,576 students is just over five times that of Kirtland’s, but the Hornets were never intimidated by the Patriots, who played in three straight West Virginia big-school regional championships.
“I didn’t even tell them how big the school is compared to ours,” Kirtland coach Ed Bradac said. “I knew they had a couple of key players but they graduated some players. I felt like if we would possess the ball and slow the game down to our speed then we’d be fine.”
The Hornets were more than fine.
Erika Zschuppe and Lidia Rodin both put shots on the frame within the first five minutes of the game and Zschuppe broke the scoreless tie with her seventh goal of the season with 27:22 left in the first half. Leah LaVerde made it 2-0 four minutes later.
Kirtland maintained that 2-0 lead into the break.
“In my mind, we gave the ball up way too much,” Bradac said of the first half. “We talked about at halftime to keep possession. We wanted to score that third goal and take the wind of their sail so there’s no, ‘Hey, we’re still in this game.’ We got it early and just played the game out.”
That third goal came originated from a Maya Zovko corner kick.
Aria Evans-Roskos scored her fifth goal of the season and her third via the header at the 36:08 mark.
Kirtland wasn’t without its share of adversity as the Hornets had several players leave the game due to injury.
Corinne Aquila missed the final 12 minutes of the first half after taking a boot to the chin and Lidia Rodin also missed time. The Hornets began the game without the services of senior captain Lilia Valentic.
“It hurts when Lidia comes off and then Corinne came off,” Bradac said. “At points, we had three girls out and this is the first game we played without Lilia Valentic. It’s a different feeling with her being out.”
Fortunately, Aquila returned for the second half to close out her third clean sheet of the season. She finished with six saves and Macy McIntosh recorded one in the final minutes of the first half.
“Corinne played great,” Bradac said> “She hasn’t really been tested all that much in the first couple of games but give (Parkersburg South) credit, they certainly had their opportunity to score early and they potentially could have been up 1-0 to start the game but Corinne came up and made a huge save and that kind of lifted us. She had a couple of other nice saves later in the game.”
Kirtland’s defense held in check a Parkersburg South team that entered the game averaging over six goals per game.
The Patriots also featured sophomore speedster Samara Nunn, an honorable mention all-state honoree last fall who also placed in four events at the West Virginia state track meet this past spring.
“We played her straight up,” Bradac said. “We just made sure the girls knew where she was on the field and to pay attention to her speed.”
Kirtland improved to 5-0 overall while Parkersburg South dropped to 3-1. The Hornets host Orange on Thursday.