Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
May 27, 2021
It was on April 6 when the Kenston Bombers girls lacrosse team hosted the Gilmour Academy Lancers. The two teams were at different stages in the season as it was the first regular season match of the year for Gilmour while the Bombers’ season already began. The Lancers were coming off a two-week spring break so they did not have a lot of game experience. Kenston handed the Lancers a resounding 18-4 loss but Gilmour head coach Gretchen Burkey noted her team was not panicking.
“It was a pretty rough game. We tried not to overthink it too much and think that was how our season was going to go because we knew we had something to prove,” the Lancers’ first-year coach explained.
Coach Burkey admitted that Gilmour did not play as a team during that contest. She said too many players were trying to shoulder the load themselves on offense rather than work together. While the Lancers needed to work on their teamwork Kenston continued to go on a tear through Division II.
What made the Bombers such a dangerous team was not simply because they had a dynamic offense, it was because they had multiple playmakers on the offensive line. At one point Kenston averaged close to 15 goals a game, and it soon dawned on them that this could be a special season.
“When we started playing our games in the season we started to realize how much potential we had,” said Kenston junior midfielder/defender Jenna Thompson smiling. “Us winning matches by more than ten points did spark our confidence.”
The Bombers were set to meet the Lancers in the Division II Region 6 quarterfinals. Gilmour already had made school history by advancing to the regional quarterfinals for the first time since the girls’ lacrosse program’s inception in 2004 but coach Burkey expressed that the Lancers wanted to show Kenston they were not the same team they were at the beginning of the season.
The Bombers ended their regular season with a handful of losses but wiped the slate clean once postseason play began. Despite Gilmour’s best efforts the result was the same as it fared no better trying to slow down the mighty Kenston offense this time around and the Bombers cruised to a 13-6 victory on May 22 at Kenston Bombers Stadium.
“We’re an unselfish team. We move the ball and play a team game. When we do that we are a really hard team to beat and stop. We’ve scored more than ten goals every time we played this year. If you can average quite a few goals a game you’re going to have success,” noted Bomber’s head coach Sean Kobunski.
It marked the first time in school history that Kenston had made it to the regional semifinals. It was also a milestone for the Bombers’ coach as he is currently experiencing the deepest postseason run of his coaching career. As excited as Kenston was to make the semifinals, coach Kobunski cautioned it was already time for the Bombers to focus on their next opponents.
Gilmour played stout defense early on as sophomore goalkeeper Madeline Boyle registered five saves in the opening minutes. Coach Burkey explained the Lancers wanted to send a message that they were not going to be trampled over.
“We wanted to show them how far we’ve come as a team throughout the season. We’ve had a lot that we worked on this season and a lot of ups-and-downs and really came together as a team. Slowing them down early was us showing up as the team we became throughout the season. They did not expect us to come out like that,” grinned the Gilmour coach.
The Lancers were doing a good job of keeping Kenston’s offense at bay but needed to score some goals to really turn up the heat on the Bombers. While Gilmour had some good looks at the cage Kenston’s senior goalkeeper Camryn Walters remained a brick wall.
“You could say without Cameryn we would not be where we are today,” coach Kobunski said praising his goalkeeper. “She’s been a rock back there. We rely on her pretty heavily because we know we can count on her for some timely saves.”
Kenston got on the board at the 17:12 mark of the first half as junior midfielder/defender Madeleine Blazey fed junior attacker/defender Amanda Eastman for a goal. It took the Bombers less than :30 seconds to score again as Eastman ripped one in the net followed by a goal by senior attacker Jenna Piazza off another assist from Blazey with 15:11 remaining in the opening half.
Blazey continued to be a playmaker as she dished the ball to senior attacker/defender Molly Hubert for her first goal of the game at the 13:55 mark then sophomore midfielder/defender Ava Arslanian scored an unassisted goal to stake the Bombers to a 5-0 lead. The Bombers took an 8-2 lead at the half after putting 15 shots at the cage in the first half.
It’s been quite the ride for the Bombers and coach Kobunski noted that the team still believed better things were to come this season and the next few years as the bulk of the team will be returning. Should the Bombers defeat the Hathaway Brown Blazers in the regional semis on May 25 then they will host the regional final match at Bainbridge Township this Friday evening.
Visit The Chagrin Valley Times to view their photo.