KIRTLAND—Jason de Zwaan recorded a hat trick and Evan Dures scored one goal in Kirtland’s 4-0 non-conference win over visiting Andrews-Osborne at Recreation Park on Thursday.
With the win, the Hornets improved to 10-1-1 on the year.
Ranked fifth in the state, the Hornets have high expectations and are developing the confidence they’ll need to make a deep run in the postseason.
“It’s one thing to say it and one thing to live it because every team we play, we know we have a target,” said Kirtland coach John Valentic on the lofty aspirations of his team. “They know our reputation and see the state ranking and all this stuff, so every game against us is a huge game. We’re getting better at it. We’re still learning, but we’re getting better.”
de Zwaan opened the scoring with 13:36 left in the first half. Dures made it 2-0 three minutes later and that lead held into halftime.
Kirtland controlled possession for the better part of the game thanks to a persistent attack and patient ball-handling and passing.
“We had a great training session yesterday where it was even better than this,” Valentic said of his team’s ability to control the ball. “There was movement off the ball, on the ball; guys had a desire to make the right play. This was a little drop-off. I was quite disappointed if I’m being honest, but, obviously, you take the result. You take what you can get against a very, very difficult opponent. They didn’t make things easy for us. They were fast and physical. We had to work for those goals.”
de Zwaan, who is now second on the team with 18 goals, added two more in the second half to close out the scoring.
As good as Kirtland’s offense was, the Hornets recorded their sixth shutout of the season and their defense has played a key role in setting up the offense all season long.
“I was just praising them at practice for their defensive ability, but even their contribution to getting the attack started is important,” Valentic said. “If they don’t give a good ball, we’re not going to score. Their distribution out of the back, their defending, and cleaning things up makes it a little easier for the attackers to take chances and risks and not have to get back as fast because you have a good solid core of defenders starting and coming off the bench.”