Joey Zovko scored a pair of goals and Jeremy Lunka finished with one in Kirtland’s 3-2 win over visiting West Geauga in the regular season finale for both teams.
The win was Kirtland’s fourth in its last five games heading into the postseason.
“Absolutely,” said Kirtland coach John Valentic when asked if the victory would provide the Hornets with some momentum heading into the playoffs. “They’re good defensively, well-organized and have a very good goalkeeper. That was very good competition for us.”
West Geauga dropped to 8-4-4 under first-year head coach Mario Gerhardt, who coached at Chagrin Falls for 48 years before taking over the Wolverines this season and is Ohio’s all-time winningest coach with 528 wins.
Lunka scored off a free kick from the top of the 18-yard box to give the Hornets a 1-0 lead in the first half.
The Wolverines tied it on a penalty kick 15 minutes into the second but Zovko scored two goals in the final 10 minutes of the game to seal Kirtland’s win.
West Geauga added a last-second goal to close out the scoring.
“I didn’t go very deep into my bench,” Valentic said. “I was trying to win the game so I played some key people that I think will help us in the playoffs. I took it very seriously and so did the team, so it was a good win.”
The Hornets improved to 9-5-2 and haven’t lost a game since a 2-1 setback to Lutheran West back on Sept. 25.
Since then, the Hornets are 4-0-1 and earned the No. 3 seed in the Division III Kent District tournament. The Hornets open the postseason at home on Oct. 21 against the winner of the No. 6 Cardinal and No. 11 Bristol sectional semifinal.
“We still need to clean up some things but I like the way our defense is organized,” Valentic said. “We’re not conceding goals or being beaten in the run of play, a set piece or something like that, but I like that. If we can score two or three goals per game with the way the defense is playing, I feel good about it.”