KIRTLAND—Eighty minutes wasn’t enough to settle the Chagrin Valley Conference showdown between the Orange Lions and host Kirtland Hornets.
The two league rivals battled to a 0-0 draw at Wilson Stadium on Wednesday.
“We just couldn’t finish,” said Kirtland coach Ed Bradac. “We have to get better in practice, but I don’t think (Orange’s) record indicates how they are as a team. They had a lot of fight in them. They came out and played really well in the first 10 minutes and then we played well, but for the first 10 minutes, we were on hour heels. At the start of the second half, I thought we were the better team but then we were on our heels again in the last 10 minutes. I don’t want to use excuses, but we did play yesterday, so that didn’t help us, but we had multiple corner kicks and if you’re going to kick the ball right at the goalkeeper, that can’t help.”
Kirtland had its fair share of chances but couldn’t find a hole in the Lion net.
Likewise, Orange had its share of scoring opportunities, but Kirtland keeper Emily Ridgeway was up to the challenge and at her best in the closing minutes when the Lions peppered multiple shots at her.
“She does everything we ask of her,” Bradac said of Ridgeway. “This was our 10th game and we’ve given up 13 goals, so she’s doing everything we need her to, and the defense has played well.”
Bradac was pleased with his team’s effort, but he knows the Hornets will need to do that consistently to make a postseason run.
“In the first half, I really loved that we were stringing together four or five or six passes,” he said. “Then, probably a negative, in the second half, we started to panic a little bit and kicked long balls, and the other team is just going to settle and they’re going to come back at you. We’ll watch the film and we’ll keep working to get better.”
Orange coach Jo Bondra saw a lot to like out of her team, especially after she made several adjustments to her lineup.
“At the beginning of the year, our center back was our goalie the last two seasons,” Bondra said. “Lucy (Jais) did a great job back there. We also moved our center mids and a couple of other people around from our last game and you can tell we’re connecting way better in the midfield and we’re getting some more chances offensively. Now, we just need to finish but I’m definitely pleased.”
Orange nearly matched Kirtland shot-for-shot, but the Lion attack occurred in bunches where Kirtland distributed its shot attempts throughout the game.
“That’s something (assistant coach) Nick (Bondra) and I have been trying to figure out in practice with different people through the midfield and up top,” Bondra said. “Shannon (Ahearn) is one of our faster kids and if you speak in lacrosse terms, which I’ve heard she’s really good at, she’ll understand the runs. I think between our midfield and forwards, we did a good job connecting and playing the ball through. Even on our corner kicks, we worked a ton on that in practice so it’s coming together.”
Most importantly, the Lions competed at a high level throughout the contest.
“They found the fight that we we’ve been waiting to see for the last couple of games,” Bondra said. “They wanted to win, and they went into those 50-50 balls from start to finish, so it was a good night.”