Friday, October 7, 2022

Kirtland wins first regional title in school history

STREETSBORO—Jeremy Lunka scored a pair of goals and Evan Dures and Kyle Lutz each finished off one to lead Kirtland to a 4-0 win over Campbell Memorial in a Division III regional championship game at Streetsboro High School on Saturday.

With the win, the Hornets will play in the state Final Four for the first time in school history.

“Throughout the week I was getting texts and emails from past players and players I didn’t even have on the team that have just been following the program just wishing us well and good spirits and stuff,” Kirtland coach John Valentic said. “It’s exciting. It’s fantastic. It’s completely surprising. I knew we were good but to say we were going to go to the Final Four was way too bold for me. I’m real happy for the kids because they deserve it.”

Lunka’s first goal came in the 10th minute when he punched in a deflection off a Josip Mijic-Barisic shot to give the Hornets a 1-0 lead.

Dures made it 2-0 when he finished off a Lunka assist with 2:36 remaining in the half.

“Jeremy all season long has been the guy,” Valentic said. “Evan the past couple of playoff games, he’s got that left foot so he makes it difficult for people to defend. He has skill so he’s going to finish chances that come his way.”

Kyle Lutz added an insurance goal with 7:57 left in the game when he outleaped everyone else to put his head on an Ethan Garcia corner kick.

Lutz scored in a similar fashion in Kirtland’s regional semifinal win over Kidron Central Christian.

“He’s aggressive and hungry for it,” Valentic said of Lutz’s headers. “He wants it and he puts himself in the right position. If we get the service, it’s going to happen.”

Lunka closed out the scoring with 2:52 left in the game.

The shutout was the 14th for the Hornets this season and their fourth in five postseason contests.

“I think 14 shutouts speaks for itself,” Valentic said. “Tyler Banyasz, the first shot of the game, came up huge to keep it out of the net. That calmed us down and woke us up. We settled down. No. 11 is a great player for them but I think the cohesiveness, aggressiveness and the game intelligence they have developed over the season really makes us hard to get past.”

Kirtland will play Archbold in a state semifinal at Sandusky High School’s Cedar Point Stadium as part of a doubleheader with the Kirtland girls’ team, who also will play Archbold in a state semifinal. The girls kick off at 6:00 p.m. while the boys will follow at 8:00.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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