Thursday, September 16, 2021

Hornets eye district title

Kirtland enters the 2018 season with similar goals to the ones the Hornets set for themselves in each of head coach John Valentic’s previous 20 years: win the Chagrin Valley Conference and make a deep run in the postseason.

Several key players return from last year and the Hornets added some young talent, leaving them in position to achieve each of their goals.

“With a strong senior class balanced by some young talent, we should be a competitive team each game,” Valentic said. “I think the boys have had a strong summer and the preseason has been good as well. If we stay healthy and focused, we should compete for a district final spot.”

Kirtland finished 10-6-2 overall and 4-2 in league play last fall then suffered an overtime loss to Maplewood in a Division III district semifinal.

Senior forward Jeremy Lunka returns as the team’s leading scorer. He finished with 12 goals and two assists last fall.

Junior forward Josip Mijic-Barisic contributed with three goals and four assists while senior midfielder Ante Bevanda, senior defender Kyle Lutz, and sophomore Marko Cubela each scored twice. Bevanda also assisted on four goals while Cubela finished with three assists.

Senior midfielder Ethan Garcia finished with just one goal last season but he recorded nine assists.

Seniors Bartul Petric and Dean Springer and freshmen John Raguz and Peter Vukovic round out the projected starting lineup.

Junior Tyler Banyasz returns in goal after allowing just 1.56 goals per game last season.

Kirtland’s challenge this season is to remain focused, especially early in the season as the team develops into a cohesive unit.

“The season goes quickly with matches and training every day,” Valentic said. “Throw in the expectations of school and a social life, and the challenge becomes the mental approach we take throughout the season. If we can get through the inevitable lows, deal with setbacks, and maintain our energy and enthusiasm, we should do well. This is much easier said than done.”

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.

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Latest Articles


Hawken wins thriller at Chagrin Falls

Hawken earned a thrilling 3-2 win at Chagrin Falls on Tuesday in a battle for second place in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division.

Kirtland knocks off Cardinal in first-place showdown

Kirtland defeated visiting Cardinal 3-1 on Monday in a battle for first place in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.

Hawken, Perry win postseason tournament titles

Hawken and Perry added some new hardware to their trophy cases following strong performances at the Chagrin Valley Conference postseason tournament at Punderson Golf Course on Monday.

Kirtland’s Erika Zschuppe commits to Florida Gulf Coast University

Kirtland senior Erika Zschuppe locked in her college choice over the weekend when she announced her commitment to continue her education and soccer career at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Last-second field goal leads Independence to win over rival

Casey McGhee booted a 22-yard field goal as time expired to lead Independence to a 30-28 win at rival Cuyahoga Heights on Friday.