Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
May 20, 2021
Step aside, there’s a new top dog in Division II Region 6. For the first time in five years a powerhouse has emerged out of the region that was not the Chagrin Falls Tigers girls lacrosse team. This time the honor belongs to the Tigers’ rival the Kenston Bombers.
The Bombers dominated Division II play all year and other coaches took note resulting in Kenston receiving the lion’s share of the votes to earn the top seed in the Division II Region 6 bracket. It was something that Bombers’ head coach Sean Kobunski considered to be a great honor.
“It’s an honor for the other coaches to recognize the work you’ve put in throughout the year and to be the number-one seed is a huge accomplishment,” said the first-year Kenston coach. “It definitely means that other people want to knock you off so we have to be on our best game.”
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. The Bombers got off to one of their best starts in school history by going undefeated through their first 11 games but slowed down as the season’s end neared by losing two of their last four contests. Kenston’s last game of the season came against one of the top-ranked teams in the State of Ohio in the Avon Orioles.
“We don’t want to have a bunch of easy opponents leading into the playoffs. We want to be tested against some of the best in the area to be prepared for a deep playoff run so it was by design,” explained the Bombers’ coach.
The last game of the season was a special game for Kenston as it was senior night. Coach Kobunski explained that Avon represented one of the toughest teams that the Bombers would face all year and senior night only gave them extra motivation to end the season on a high note. Despite a strong start Kenston faded in the second half and suffered a 17-8 loss against the Orioles on May 13 at Kenston Bombers Stadium.
The Bombers and Avon appeared to be engaged in quite a duel as the score was 2-1 in the Orioles’ favor midway through the first half. The Kenston coach noted that it was a fast-paced affair which was just the way the Bombers like it.
“There were stretches of time where there weren’t any goals but we looked up at the scoreboard at one point and it was already 2-1 with 12 minutes gone off the clock,” noted coach Kobunski. “There was so much play and so many great moments in that first half. It was fun to watch from the sideline.”
The Orioles held the edge but Kenston was not far behind and only trailed by two goals at the break. The Bombers’ coach noted that his team was doing a good job at playing in transition and splitting the face-offs within the draw circle to stay within striking distance.
Things changed in the second half when the Orioles came up with a new game plan by slowing things down. Avon had no trouble scoring at a slower pace and started to win every face-off. Losing control of the draw circle hurt but the real killer for Kenston was that it was now turning the ball over in transition.
“When you can’t win draws, turn the ball over in transition and you’re not getting groundball battles coming up your way then naturally the game is going to shift in the opposite direction of your opponent,” lamented the Kenston coach.
Coach Kobunski said his team would have loved to honor their four seniors the right way with a victory but just didn’t execute on the three critical elements of lacrosse in the second half. The Bombers are not feeling sorry for themselves as the postseason starts, he added.
“I know our team is pretty confident but we probably played the best team we’ve seen all year and we fought with them,” the Kenston coach noted. “We were trading punches in the first half and in the second half we weren’t executing to the level that we should have been when you play somebody of their caliber but I don’t think we’ll see anybody like that in Division II.”
Kenston ended its season with three losses in its last five games. During that span the Bombers suffered their first Division II loss to the Hathaway Brown Blazers on May 1 but they were not playing at full strength as they were missing several of their key defensive starters. Despite ending the season on a low note coach Kobunski expressed that he believed his team is prepared for a deep run in the Division II Region 6 postseason.
The Kenston coach is in his third year of coaching high school lacrosse. His first two seasons were with the Chardon Hilltoppers but both years they failed to win a postseason contest. This may just be the year that the Bombers’ coach will see his first playoff win as the odds appear to be stacked in Kenston’s favor.
Should the Bombers emerge victorious in the second round of the playoffs against crosstown rivals the Orange Lions on Wednesday they will then face the winner of the contest between the Gilmour Lancers and St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish this Saturday at Bainbridge Township.
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