Evan Dures scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to lead Kirtland to a 3-2 win over Andrews-Osborne in a Division III district championship.
With the win, the Hornets advance to the regional tournament for the third straight season.
“We gutted it out at the end,” Kirtland coach John Valentic said of the overtime thriller. “We dominated possession but we’re very vulnerable to counterattacks and they have an all-state player who you know is going to create a lot of chances and put you on your back foot. We’re vulnerable so we need to clean that up but it was a good fight from the boys all day long to come back against a very good team.”
Andrews-Osborne’s Isaac Lee broke a scoreless tie with 6:04 remaining in the first half.
The Hornets evened it up midway through the second half when Dures tapped in a loose ball following a Kirtland corner kick.
Dures’ goal at the 26:05 mark began a flurry of scoring as Andrews responded with a goal a minute and a half later to regain the lead at 2-1.
Petar Mijic-Barisic scored the equalizer just over a minute later and then both sides fought off the other down the stretch in regulation.
Dures ended the game just six minutes into overtime.
“We had the momentum the whole second half and Evan had a really good individual effort,” Valentic said. “He dribbled around two or three guys and set himself up for a shot at the goal and he tucked it inside the post. The goalie got a hand on it but it had a little too much power and it got in.”
The win over Andrews-Osborne was the second straight for the Hornets in the district championship game. The Hornets also beat the Phoenix in last year’s district title game, 3-2.
Kirtland, who improved to 13-3-1, will travel to Canfield South Range for a regional semifinal game on Wednesday.
The Hornets defeated South Range, 1-0, in a 2016 regional semifinal on the blue turf at Ravenna High School. South Range is 12-5-2 on the season with nine shutouts. The Raiders have allowed just 21 goals in 19 games.
“We played them a couple of years ago in the regionals and I know they’re going to be very competitive,” Valentic said.