Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
November 4, 2021
Although it had been a while since the Kenston Bombers girls soccer team trailed in a match, they battled back and scored three unanswered goals to repeat as Division II district champions in a 3-1 victory over Poland Seminary last Thursday night in Alliance.
A year removed after winning the first district title in school history, Kenston continued to add to the record books by becoming the first two-time girls soccer district champions.
“We’ve had a really nice two-year run here winning the only two district championships in program history,” said coach Jonathan Kostoff. “It was our chance to get back to regional play once again this year as we get a chance to avenge what went wrong in the Sweet Sixteen game for us last year. It’s been a really fun and an exciting run.”
The Bombers’ (17-0-2) bid to defend their district title hit a snag as Poland Seminary took 1-0 lead inside the second minute after senior Syda Masucci tapped the ball in after a broken set play.
“We’ve defended so well all year long so it was a little bit of a wake-up call,” said the second-year coach. “We have a starting back four that has started every game together for the last two years so they knew to adjust and pick each other up and they did that by pitching a shutout through the next 78 minutes.”
Having trailed only four times during the season, Kostoff said it was not ideal for the Bombers to fall behind early but he would much rather it happened at the beginning then at the later stages of the match.
Kenston senior midfielder Morgan Mintz tallied the equalizer inside the 15th minute when she lofted the ball into the net after receiving a corner kick from senior midfielder Skylar Cornell.
It was the second goal in as many games for Mintz after recording her first career varsity goal against Shaker Heights.
“It was an incredible goal for one of the kids who is one of the prides for our program,” Kostoff said. “Morgan’s worked her tail off to get to where she is so to see a player that works extremely hard that doesn’t get a lot of stats or get a lot of goals but defends at a super high level and distributes at a high level get rewarded with a goal when we needed it more than ever during the season was awesome.”
After tying the match, the Bombers began to settle in and play their usual brand of lockdown defense and limited Poland Seminary to just two more shots on goal during the match.
Freshman forward/defender Lilah Cornell pushed Kenston ahead to a 2-1 lead as she received an outlet pass from senior defender Aidan Myles and took the Bulldogs’ goalkeeper on one-on-one to give Kenston its first lead of the night inside the 58th minute.
The Bombers stole Poland Seminary’s kick-off and junior midfielder/forward Paige Spicuzza found Lilah in open space once again and she beat the goalkeeper to stretch Kenston’s lead to 3-1.
In matter of just 17 seconds the Bombers had taken full control.
“That 17 seconds of time was a microcosm of the way we wanted to play the whole game,” Kostoff said. “We didn’t get into it as much as we wanted to until later in the first half but in the full 40 minutes in the second halft we started playing a lot more and that was a moment in time, that 17-second spell that we will never forget. That was an amazing moment in one of the biggest games in program history.”
Having already scored 21 goals this year, Lilah set a new school record for most goals scored by a freshman in a single season, besting her sister Skylar’s record from the 2018 campaign.
“I think people are stunned when I tell them she’s a freshman,” said Kostoff. “Lilah’s such a great hard-working kid. Her confidence just continues to grow and I knew she would really have a big year. I knew it from the first time I saw her play but I didn’t know if it was going to be this type of great success but her game continues to evolve.”
After the Bombers play crosstown foe Chagrin Falls in the regional semifinals in Ravenna on Nov. 2, the winner of that match will advance to the regional finals on Nov. 6.
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