Saturday, June 15, 2024

Hornets cruise to seventh straight sectional title

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Kirtland’s girls’ soccer team is playing its best soccer at the right time.

The Hornets, ranked No. 9 in the final Division III state coaches’ poll and the top seed in the Gates Mills District, defeated visiting Pymatuning Valley on Thursday, 9-0, to collect a seventh straight sectional title.

After starting the season 0-3-1, the Hornets are now 10-4-3 on the year and are unbeaten in their last seven games with ties to Division I district semifinalists Madison and Mayfield. The Hornets have outscored their last seven opponents, 26-3.

Leah LaVerde, Katie McCollister and Hannah Vouk each scored a pair of goals in the win over the Lakers and Gabby Culotta, Lilia Valentic and Maya Zovko each contributed with one score.

LaVerde now has four goals and three assists on the year.

“I’m very grateful that I have the opportunity to help my team in the playoffs as a freshman,” LaVerde said. “I love playing with all of these girls and will work hard to help us succeed any way I can. We all work hard.”

Liz Vernon chased down a Culotta punt then fed LaVerde, who then used her left foot to put it away in the bottom right corner of the net. LaVerde tapped in a loose ball to record her second goal.

McCollister is now second on the team with five goals.

She’s excited to see the team coming together and focused on a long postseason run after playing a challenging schedule.

“It feels amazing, especially because of how well we played in the regular season and now it’s carrying into the playoffs,” McCollister said. “The difficulty of our schedule and how hard we’ve worked all season is really paying off and I’m very excited to see where it takes us.”

Zovko added three assists in the win and Culotta finished the game with four saves and an assist.

Kirtland hosts Wickliffe in a district semifinal on Monday at 4:30 p.m.

Steve Hare
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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