KIRTLAND—Last year, Kirtland’s girls’ soccer team defeated Independence, 9-0, in the regular season then went on a historic tournament run that ended in the Division III state final four. Independence, meanwhile, took some lumps in a rebuilding year.
On Tuesday at Recreation Park, things were much different as the Hornets won a 2-0 game.
“Last year it was 9-0 and (Independence) has got a better group and that's what we were talking about, that it was a better group than last year,” said Kirtland coach Ed Bradac. “We also talked about it's a win. We can't look at it and be like, 'Oh, we should beat people by eight or nine goals.' It just doesn't happen. A win is a win and that's our ninth shutout, so that's also impressive.”
Independence coach Bryan Less was pleased with his squad’s performance in the loss.
“I told them this is going to be the best team we're going to play. Last year it was 9-0 and 6-0 at halftime,” he said. “I told them Kirtland wasn't the team they had last year but we were a lot better and it's time to show a lot of teams how much we've improved so far this season.”
Freshman Lydia Rodin scored both of Kirtland’s goals in the win and she deserved it after struggling to find the net in Monday’s win over Rootstown.
“I think she was frustrated (on Monday),” Bradac said. “She hit a shot that literally hit the left post and the right post and it didn't go in. I think she was shocked that she took I think eight shots on goal and didn't score once, so I think coming into this I know she wanted to score.”
Rodin’s first goal came off an assist from Jenna Sayle with 34:40 left in the first half.
“The difference for us is when we switched Jenna Sayle up top,” Bradac said. “She's calm and she did exactly what I asked her to do. She played the ball down and laid it back into the middle for Lydia to finish.”
Hannah Vouk fed Rodin on her second goal, which came with 25:23 left in the game.
Kirtland’s defense did the rest, keeping the Blue Devils from mounting a comeback.
“Making a deep run in the tournament, we got to play that many more games and we got to learn from those girls,” Bradac said. “Maggie Kadas, Gabby Culotta, Tea Petric, Danielle Bryll and Lindsay Ward all just do a solid job back there. They work well together. I'm very pleased.”
Less was equally pleased with his team’s performance on the defensive end.
“The defense played real well today,” he said. “My two center backs, Christina Brunsman and Jasmine Harb, I've been working on them not always flowing to the ball side and they did a good job of staggering with one of them always staying center and Krista DeFini had an outstanding job at goalie.”
Offensively, Less knew his team would have limited opportunities.
“We didn't have a lot of chances on offense but this was a really good team,” he said. “I knew we weren't going to have a lot. If we scored a goal it was going to be luck or some fantastic play. The opportunities we did have, it was our skill that was coming through. Last year this team just didn't have a lot and this year it was nice play of moving the ball around and giving us some opportunities against a really good team.”
Kirtland improved to 9-2-2 overall while Independence dropped to 3-7-4. The Hornets travel to Mayfield on Thursday while the Blue Devils head to Lutheran West on Monday.