Kirtland used a last-second goal on Saturday to win a sectional championship but on Tuesday the Hornets came up on the other end of that dramatic finish in a Division III district semifinal at second-seeded Maplewood.
Tommy Rink, who entered the game with 59 goals scored this season, punched in the game-winner in double overtime as the Rockets beat the Hornets, 3-2.
“We just never really got into a good flow,” said Kirtland coach John Valentic. “The wind was such a strong factor, it was so strong, and that really took us out of our game. We just didn’t play well. They are a senior-laden team and they were stronger and faster to the balls and that really was the difference. They didn’t give us any time or room to get into any flow and we were off.”
Kirtland, which closed out the season with a 10-6-2 record, took a 1-0 lead when Kyle Work scored off a corner kick.
The Rockets responded late in the first half to send the game into halftime knotted up at 1-1.
“They had so many corner kicks and throw-ins during the first half,” Valentic said. “We were defending for literally 40 minutes. Eventually, we got broken down.”
Tyler Bratton came off the bench in the second half to give the Hornets a short-lived 2-1 lead with 15:36 remaining in the game.
“He did great,” Valentic said. “He came in and gave us some needed hustle and strength. There was a loose ball in the box and he toe-poked it home.”
The Rockets tied it a minute later to force overtime.
Neither team managed to end the game in the first overtime, which set up Rink’s game-winner in the second extra period.
“In the first 15 we played into the wind and we held off their attack,” Valentic said. “The ball deflected off a defender and Tyler (Banyasz) thought it was going low and it popped up and hit the roof of the net. It was a bit unlucky on our end.”
The loss closed out the careers of Kirtland’s senior class, which finished with a 52-19-6 record over four years with one regional championship game appearance, one district title, and four sectional championships.
“The seniors that finished out their careers, their record speaks for itself,” Valentic said. “They’re great kids, hard workers and they’re responsible for the biggest successes we’ve had in the program since it started in 1984. I’m very proud of them.”