Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Early goals lead Kirtland to 6-0 win over Berkshire

KIRTLAND—Early goals paved the way for Kirtland’s 6-0 win over Berkshire in a Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division showdown at Recreation Park on Tuesday.

Stjepan Mijic-Barisic opened the match with a 25-second goal and added another in the sixth minute. Sanjay Sundararajan, Ryan Friedenberg, Jeremy Lunka and Jared Ianiro also scored in the game.

“That's actually two games in a row where we've gotten one in less than a minute,” said Kirtland coach John Valentic. “That's huge to get a good start like that. It helps to have confidence afterwards. We're moving the ball well and I think that was our strength today.”

Friedenberg and Sundararajan are now tied for the team lead in goals scored with five each. Ianiro has three and Mijic-Barisic has two. Four other players have scored a goal in Kirtland’s first four games.

“It's huge to have trust in one another and believe that each one can score and not think that they have to do stuff all on their own,” Valentic said of the offensive distribution. “It's good that they can play good, quality team soccer and that each of them are capable of passing, shooting and dribbling and being a major contributor. In the next six games we’re really going to see what we're made of.”

Mijic-Barisic leads the team with five assists and Ianiro has three, but he’s also responsible for a lot of the action on the offensive side of the field.

“Jared Ianiro's passing ability and range, I don’t think is paralleled in the local area,” Valentic said.

Kirtland improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in league play but the Hornets will face some challenges in the coming weeks with games against Gilmour Academy, Wickliffe, Beachwood and Lutheran West, among others.

That’s when the Kirtland defense will need to shine.

“We're going to have a defensive practice again on Wednesday,” Valentic said. “That's all I’ve been talking about. We haven't talked about offense or anything other than making sure that we're organized and compact and that we're doing the right thing. We're going to hopefully ride that for a while.”

Kirtland travels to Gilmour on Thursday.


Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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