Monday, February 6, 2023

Hawken edges Kirtland

KIRTLAND—A slow start forced Kirtland to play from behind and the Hornets came up a goal short in a 2-1 non-conference loss to visiting Hawken at Recreation Park on Thursday.

Hawken’s Josef Horwath scored off a direct kick in the fifth minute to give the Hawks an early lead. Stjepan Mijic-Barisic tied it midway through the second half but Eric Oyen scored off a corner kick with 16 minutes left in the game to lead the Hawks to victory.

“We were a little lethargic to start, which is surprising because we've been having some really good training sessions and I know they were talking and were up in the game,” said Kirtland coach John Valentic. “Maybe it was a little loss of concentration (on the first goal). It was the same with the second goal. We just couldn't get it out. There was no ownership of it.”

Time seemed to stand still on both of Hawken’s goals.

The ball ricocheted off several different players before the Hawken players stepped up and tapped the ball into the back of the net.

“Those are the breaks,” Valentic said. “I hate to use the cliché, but it was a bit unlucky. They're a good team and the victory was deserved.”

Trailing 1-0, Mijic-Barisic won a free ball just outside the box and dribbled his way between two Hawken defenders before delivering a powerful right-footed shot into the corner of the net to give the Hornets some hope of knocking off their longtime rival.

Mijic-Barisic’s individual effort to make a play is something that didn’t surprise his coach.

“He's a special player,” Valentic said. “You just kind of stay out of his way. He has instincts and skill and talent that he really works at and develops. You're not going to get that from too many people in this area.”

Kirtland had several scoring opportunities in the second half but couldn’t finish.

Hawken’s Adam Wisnieski and Kirtland’s Danny Jahnke both recorded five saves in the game.

Valentic credited Kyle Lutz for his work on the defensive end.

“Kyle Lutz did a great job,” he said. “We threw him into the lineup. He did a great job being a nuisance on defense. Kudos to him for doing a great job.”

Despite the loss, Kirtland gained some confidence heading down the stretch of the regular season and into the post-season.

“I think when you play a tough team I think it gives you some confidence that anybody that comes our way we're going to be able to compete with them,” Valentic said. “You take the positives away. You know what you did wrong and you improve on those.”

Hawken improved to 3-3 while Kirtland dropped to 7-2.


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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