Independence scored the first goal but visiting Kirtland retaliated with five straight in a 5-1 win over Independence at Stan Skoczen Field at Alumni Stadium on Tuesday.
With the win, the Hornets have now won six of their last seven games after an 0-3-1 start.
“We continue to go back to the schedule we put in place for the girls and when we play against teams that are our size it all starts to make sense to them,” said Kirtland coach Ed Bradac. “They’re like, ‘I get it now, I get why we play Chagrin Falls and Rocky River and Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.’ It definitely resonates to them now that there is some logic behind this.”
The Hornets played their first eight games against Division I and Division II opponents. They finished 4-3-1 in those contests.
They are 2-0 against Division III opponents this season.
“When you go and play against (a Division III school) you don’t feel like you’re outmatched,” Bradac said. “I think the one quote that sticks out in my head when we were 0-3-1 was a comment from senior Maggie Kadas. She said, ‘I’d really like to win a game.’ I think we all felt that and deep down I know we have a good, quality team that has a nice blend of senior leadership along with some quality underclassmen.”
Sophomore Maya Zovko continued her assault on the net with three more goals against Independence, pushing her team-lead to 13 scores on the season.
Kadas scored on a penalty kick and Liz Vernon added a goal for the Hornets.
Bradac made a last-minute substitution on the penalty kick.
“Initially, I was going to have Lilia Valentic take the PK but I had a moment of clarity,” Bradac said. “I flashed back to two years ago when Maggie, a senior captain, was a sophomore and she stepped up and buried a PK against Hawken in the district finals. It was 1-1 at that point and it was a big momentum factor. If she missed it, they’d be in the game longer.”
Kadas found the back of the net and the Hornets cruised to the win.
Vikki Carriero, Hannah Vouk, Kristi Bryll and Leah LaVerde all had assists in the win and Gabby Culotta recorded two saves.
Paige Westerburg scored for Independence off an assist from Jasmine Harb and Reni Kaiser recorded nine saves for the Blue Devils.
“We played hard but just made too many mistakes,” said Independence coach Bryan Less. “We are a developing team and can’t do that against a solid opponent. This was a good learning opportunity of where we need to be in the future.”
Kirtland improved to 6-4-1 overall. The Hornets travel to Division I Madison on Thursday. Independence dropped to 6-3-1. The Blue Devils visit Division I Willoughby South on Thursday.