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