Kirt­land falls in state fi­nal

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By Chris Lill­strung clill­strung@news-her­ald.com @CLill­strungNH on Twit­ter

COLUM­BUS >> The feel­ing post­match at MAPFRE Sta­dium af­ter a state fi­nal can best be in­ter­preted some­times by the speed of the stride.

They’re equally the same dis­tance, but one is a full-out sprint to the goal­mouth with hard­ware in tow.

The other is a long, slow trek to­ward home.

Un­for­tu­nately for Kirt­land on Nov. 9 in the Divi­sion III state fi­nal against Cincin­nati Coun­try Day, it was the lat­ter for an­other fall.

Kate Brock scored two late goals to blow open a 3-0 In­di­ans win, send­ing the 20-3 Hor­nets home D-III state run­ner-up for the sec­ond straight year.

“Go­ing into half­time, 0-0 — OK, fine,” Kirt­land coach Ed Bradac said.

“We bat­tled. We were in our de­fen­sive end pretty much that whole first half. We talked at half­time, and we said, ‘We’re get­ting beat through the mid­dle. What we re­ally want to try and do is con­trol more mid­field as much as we can and then play wide.

“But, to their credit, they were good in all 11 po­si­tions.”

That 11 for Coun­try Day (20-2) played a visu­ally pleas­ing brand of soc­cer, with a no-non­sense ap­proach in mid­field and use of wide play that made the Hor­nets ex­ert a great deal

of en­ergy in the back.

The In­di­ans, who en­joyed a 17-2 shots on tar­get ad­van­tage, took a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute, when Jada Moor­man slot­ted a curl­ing strike from the left side of the box for her 10th goal of 2018.

Brock con­trib­uted a late brace to ice the re­sult. The stand­out ju­nior striker scored on a scram­ble in the 70th minute, then scored in the 72nd minute on the best bit of nat­u­ral flow of at­tack in the match. Law­son Re­nie played a beau­ti­ful di­ag­o­nal ball for Brock on a surg­ing run, and she took care of the fin­ish for her 36th goal of the sea­son.

“To be hon­est, it wasn’t our best game,” Kirt­land se­nior sweeper Emily Un­grady said. “I don’t think our heads

were re­ally right at the be­gin­ning. But we even­tu­ally got the flow of it. Un­for­tu­nately, it was too late by the time we got there.

“We had a great op­po­nent. We bat­tled our hard­est, but some­times, it doesn’t go our way.”

Hor­nets sopho­more goal­keeper Corinne Aquila had a nice match un­der the cir­cum­stances, with Coun­try Day dom­i­nant in pos­ses­sion. Aquila recorded 14 saves, high­lighted by a nice div­ing stop on Re­nie in the 53rd on a hard left-footed strike from the mid­dle of the box.

“They are a very, very good team,” Kirt­land se­nior mid­fielder Lau­ren Lutz said. “They def­i­nitely gave us some com­pe­ti­tion

that we were look­ing for. It was a hard-fought game on both ends, I feel. We def­i­nitely ended up play­ing a more de­fen­sive game than we had hoped.

“We needed to have the fe­roc­ity we had at the end of the game the whole game long. That’s one of the things that kept us out of this game.”

While un­der­stand­ably dif­fi­cult to ap­pre­ci­ate in the im­me­di­acy of a state fi­nal set­back, the se­niors for Kirt­land have been in­stru­men­tal to a pro­gram re­nais­sance.

Since 2015, the Hor­nets have made their first three D-III state fi­nal four ap­pear­ances in pro­gram his­tory, with a pair of run­nerup tro­phies to take back

to Lake County, and have amassed a 65-16-7 record dur­ing that span.

Kirt­land grad­u­ates three key se­niors from its start­ing 11 — Un­grady, Lutz and Jenna Sayle. But the Hor­nets will re­turn the bulk of a side de­ter­mined to keep chip­ping away and make that stride to the goal­mouth at full speed to cel­e­brate a state ti­tle on their next at­tempt.

“Yeah, it re­ally means ev­ery­thing to us,” Un­grady said. “I’m hon­ored to be here with my team. I just hope they can even­tu­ally come back and fin­ish what we started.”

Added Lutz: “To this group, it’s amaz­ing, and I can’t wait for all the things that th­ese girls are go­ing

to ac­com­plish. We had an amaz­ing group of girls at Kirt­land, and I couldn’t ask for a bet­ter team. And I couldn’t ask for a bet­ter coach­ing staff. I wish we could have pulled out the vic­tory, but I hope that they get one next year.

“(The mes­sage to the re­turnees is to) stay as hard and as tough every sin­gle day and every sin­gle game as we worked at the end of this game. We need to make sure that, no mat­ter how hard the other team is play­ing, we’re play­ing harder. And that’s what kept us out of the be­gin­ning of this game. But that’s how we’ve been play­ing all sea­son long. We played tough. We played hard. And some­times, it’s just not enough.”

STEVE HARE — FOR THE NEWS-HER­ALD

Kirt­land’s Jenna Sayle hoists the state run­ner-up tro­phy Nov. 9 at MAPFRE Sta­dium in Colum­bus.

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