CHARDON—Early goals in both the first and second half set the tone for Kirtland as the Hornets went on to beat top-seeded Chippewa in a regional semifinal on Tuesday, 3-0.
With the win, the Hornets improved to 5-0 in regional semifinal games since first winning a district title back in 2015. The Hornets have outscored their opponents in those games, 19-0.
“We have those five-minute windows as the start of halves, end of halves and end of games,” Kirtland coach Ed Bradac said. “We did a great job in that first five minutes of the game. We were able to come down and Erika finished it.”
The Hornets, who improved to 16-1-3, had additional inspiration for their fast start.
Chippewa entered the game as the top seed in the district while Kirtland was No. 2, despite closing out the regular season ranked fourth in the state.
“We made it clear to them that within this district, we were not the No. 1 seed,” Bradac said. “We were the two-seed and they have to prove to everybody in this district that probably in reality, we probably should have been the one. We weren’t but the only way you’re going to change people’s minds is you have to come out and beat Chippewa.”
Zschuppe quickly grabbed the momentum for the Hornets when she chased down a through ball and buried it into the back of the net just four minutes into the game.
That score held until Zschuppe added goal number 47 on the season just 28 seconds into the second half.
“For me, she’s easily the best (Division III) player in the state and she showed it. She scored two goals and got people involved tonight. It was just an outstanding job,” Bradac said. “We talked at halftime. We said, ‘the next goal is either going to make us tie and then we’re in a battle or we’re going to set the tone and continue that for the rest of the game.’ What a great goal to start the second half.”
Five minutes later, Giuliana Vladic served up a perfect corner kick for Aria Evans-Roskos to head in for a 3-0 lead.
For Vladic, that was her 18th assist this season.
“She has no goals on the year but she’s now assisted on 15-plus goals for this team,” Bradac said. “She is a huge part of who we are this year. We graduated some really good midfielders and she stepped in and has led us. Her corner kicks are the best I’ve had on the team in years. They’re consistent, they’re delivered. Ari jokes that her goals are because of her. She is tremendous on the inside along with Maria Bevanda. They are buddies and it shows when they play on the field together.”
Kirtland’s defense took it from there and closed out the game without allowing a Chippewa goal.
The Hornets advanced to Saturday’s regional championship game where they’ll host South Range, a 2-1 winner over Berkshire in the other semifinal game.
Kirtland defeated South Range in the 2018 regional semis, 9-0.