WILLOUGHBY—Kirtland graduated nine seniors from the squad that played for the Division III state championship last November but the Hornets didn’t skip a beat in downing host South, 3-0, in their season opener on Friday at Harry E. Winters Stadium.
Maya Zovko scored in the fifth minute to give the Hornets an early 1-0 lead and Erika Zschuppe scored on a penalty kick to push the Kirtland advantage to 2-0 at halftime. Lauren Lutz added a goal in the second half to close out the scoring.
“It’s a young team–we graduated nine seniors–so we talked about all preseason to play within themselves and to play some composure,” said Kirtland coach Ed Bradac. “For me, what they were able to do against a very good Willoughby South team, I was very pleased.”
Tea Petric assisted on Zovko’s goal and Amber Yurick set up Lutz’s second half score.
Corinne Aquila recorded six saves in notching her first clean sheet.
“She was solid in goal,” Bradac said. “You have four new players in the back—everywhere really—but they did well. We came here last year and tied and I think this is a better team than South had last year.”
Aquila had plenty of help from the new faces on Kirtland’s defense.
Captain Emily Ungrady switched from forward to defense, which provided the Hornets with exceptional team speed on the backend.
“That was a huge sacrifice on Emily’s part,” Bradac said. “I know that’s not where she wants to be but I think she realizes the value she has for this team. As a captain, she’s doing a great job for us. Her speed is incredible. Amber has stepped in and Gabby Piazza has stepped in. We also had the luxury to push Tea to the outside to defend and in some cases that gives us the ability to play with two sweepers at times with Tea and Emily.”
The Hornets host Rocky River on Monday then open league play at home against Hawken on Thursday.