Friday, September 22, 2023

Top-seeded Hornets top Wickliffe

MENTOR—Four different players scored goals as top-seeded Kirtland defeated No. 4 Wickliffe in a Division III district semifinal at Mentor High School on Wednesday, 5-0.

The Hornets did all of their scoring in the first half.

“The first half was fantastic,” Kirtland coach John Valentic said. “That’s kind of an understatement when it’s 5-0. It was the movement of the guys and the energy and how well we played as a team and created chances for each other.”

Jeremy Lunka scored two goals while Peter Vukovic, Ante Bevanda and Mario Rodin each finished with one.

Vukovic opened the scoring in the fifth minute. Lunka made it 2-0 with 21:04 left in the half and Bevanda increased the lead to 3-0 four minutes later.

Rodin punched in his goal with 13:46 left in the half and Lunka added his second with 3:44 left in the half.

“Obviously, that knocked the wind out of them when it was like that at halftime,” Valentic said.

Vukovic also assisted on a pair of goals and Ethan Garcia, Marko Cubela and Josip Mijic-Barisic each contributed with one assist.

“We’ve been really fortunate to have a lot of depth this year,” Valentic said of seeing contributions from so many different players. “I’m OK going five or six deep into the bench. The guys that come on can contribute. I consider them starters even though they’re not starting the game, but they’re good enough to start.”

Tyler Banyasz recorded one save in notching his 12th clean sheet of the season and second in the postseason.

“Wickliffe has some really quick, dangerous players and they’re really good at the counter,” Valentic said. “That was a big concern of ours but the defense was clean. We had a couple of sloppy plays but when our goalkeeper doesn’t have to record too many saves it’s always a great day.”

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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