Things are looking good right now for the Kenston Bombers girls soccer team.
After Kenston captured its first Division II district title in school history in 2020, the pressure was on for it to come back and have another dominating season.
So far the Bombers are living up to expectations as its remained unbeaten by defeating Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy 4-1 last Saturday afternoon at Kenston Bomber Stadium.
The win over the Royals matches the best start for Kenston (7-0-1, 3-0-0) since the 2019 season.
“The way we’re playing and the teams we’re playing against makes this start look better,” said coach Jonathan Kostoff. “We are playing teams we know and have a had lot of success against that will challenge us and CVCA presented a different challenge from the other non-conference teams.”
The Bombers started fast, scoring the game’s first goal inside the eighth minute when junior forward Ramsey Smith collected a corner kick from junior midfielder/forward Paige Spicuzza and soft-toed it into the net past the reach of Royals’ freshman goalkeeper Izzy Ezzone.
“Paige threw it in,” said Smith smiling. “I saw it and thought you know what? I’m going to take a touch and got lucky and it went in.”
Kenston stretched out its lead to 2-0 when junior forward Sophia Cartellone scored off a cross from freshman forward/defender Lilah Cornell inside the 12th minute.
“I was facing the in line,” explained Cornell. “So I had to cross it and Sophia hit it into the back of the net.”
The Bombers have been getting off to fast starts all season.
“We always try and start strong from the beginning,” said Cornell. “Saturday we just really worked hard at that and I think against any defense if we start hard at the beginning then we will be able to keep scoring and pushing through and winning those games.”
Kenston finished the game logging 28 shots at that net compared to just eight shots for the Royals.
CVCA could not find any consistency on the offensive end against a Bombers’ defense that had pitched three consecutive shutout victories coming into the match. With the entire back line of the 2020 team returning, Kenston is starting to hit its stride.
“We’re really locking down on defense,” noted Smith. “I think we’re a better defense than we were last year because we work better together on defense now.”
The Bombers were relentless as they continued to pepper Ezzone with shots at the net in the second half. It was just a matter of time before Kenston would bury another shot and Smith did so when she received an outlet pass from freshman midfielder/defender Bria Devlin while streaking down the sideline and booted it into the back of the net inside the 70th minute.
“I was getting down the field but I didn’t think I was doing my best,” she said. “I was going to sprint and just wanted to take a shot and it worked out.”
The Bombers’ junior enjoyed a breakout season last year asthe second leading scorer with 14 goals and seven assists through 20 matches. It had been a slower start for Smith this year as she scored just four goals through the previous seven matches but came alive on Saturday.
“Ramsey’s confidence was up before the game,” noted Kostoff. “It just felt like one of those days she was going to have a really good game and she certainly did. She’s a premier striker in this area. Her ability to score with either foot is incredible.”
It took less than one minute for Kenston to stretch its lead to 4-0.
Smith tried to score on essentially the exact same play but Ezzone made a nice deflection. Cornell was there to catch the rebound and fired the ball right into the net inside the 71st minute.
“Coach Kostoff is always yelling at me to make the back post run,” said Cornell. “I did and I saw Ramsey’s shot fall and could tell it was either going to hit the pipe or go a little wide so I made the run and the ball found my foot and just slotted it in.”
With essentially the entire offensive line returning, Cornell has taken the reins as the leading scorer for Kenston this season as she has now tallied nine goals and six assists through the first eight matches of her varsity career.
Kostoff said he knew Cornell would have a big role on the team when he watched her play in club soccer this past spring but her role expanded when starting senior forward Sophia Mighton tore her right ACL during a club soccer match.
Since stepping into the starting lineup, the Bombers’ freshman has looked like she’s been playing varsity for several years.
“Lilah’s fantastic,” said the second-year coach. “If you are any other coach and see her play you think there’s no way she’s a ninth grader. The way she can take players on in space one on one and her ability to finish with both feet from any distance makes her special.”
Kenston saw its opportunity for its fourth straight shutout vanish when Royals’ sophomore forward Sam Williams booted a long distance goal from midfield. That marked just the fifth goal surrendered by the Bombers through their first eight matches.
After a match against Streetsboro in Bainbridge Township on Sep. 23 at 7 p.m., Kenston will try and pick up its first win against its crosstown rivals Chagrin Falls since the 2013 campaign on Sep. 25 at C.S. Harris Stadium at 7 p.m.