AURORA — It was a highly anticipated rematch that was pretty much inevitable.
The last showdown between the Aurora and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy girls soccer teams was a thrilling nail-biter that came down to the final minutes.
This time, no nail-biter took place. The Greenmen took care of business in the first half and didn’t look back.
Third-seeded Aurora earned a date in district play after posting a 3-0 victory over the sixth-seeded Royals.
The Kent Division II sectional title game took place Thursday at Veterans Stadium.
With the win, the Greenmen are scheduled to visit second-seeded Chagrin Falls in a district semifinal contest Monday. The Tigers defeated Aurora 1-0 earlier in the season. Play is set to begin at 7 p.m.
The Greenmen are feeling a bit of a different vibe when it comes to the postseason. Aurora had to face some of the top programs in the area and in the state in previous years.
Since the Greenmen have moved down to Division II this fall, the upcoming schedule isn’t so formidable.
"For state, we’re normally in Division I," Aurora head coach Bo Wilson said. "Our best bet was Twinsburg, Hudson or Walsh (Jesuit). Now, I think they’re believing in themselves. They’re not used to being in it."
The Greenmen (10-4-3) needed everything it had to hold off CVCA by a 3-2 score when the two teams met at Veterans Stadium Oct. 4.
Just like the last game, Aurora jumped on the Royals early before CVCA responded.
And just like the last game, the Royals controlled possession much of the second half.
This time, though, the Greenmen defense stepped up to the plate. And of course, once again, Aurora had senior forward Taylor Burick on it side.
Burick, who has terrorized opposing defenses for what seems like forever, was a force again.
She finished with two goals and proved to be a matchup nightmare for the Royals. Burick also had two goals in the previous showdown with CVCA (9-7-2).
"When you got Taylor up there, you might as well use it," Wilson said. "She’s fast; she’s physical; she’s a phenomenal finisher. You get her around the goal and you have a good chance of putting the ball in the back of the net."
The Greenmen needed less than three minutes to get on the board.
Thanks to a beautiful through ball by sophomore Emma Krondorfer, Burick was off to the races as she easily beat Royals’ sophomore goalkeeper Isabella McClendon with a shot to the left corner of the net.
The Greenmen made it 2-0 a little more than 10 minutes later.
Sophomore Carlie Filkouski got free on the right side. Her initial shot was deflected by a CVCA defender, but senior Nicole Doemling alertly gathered the loose ball and passed it back to Filkouski.
This time, the sophomore delivered.
Playing the ball on a bounce, Filkouski knocked the ball into the net with her left foot.
The Royals had life when Aurora could not deliver the knockout punch during the two teams’ encounter two weeks earlier.
However, the Greenmen executed that crucial staggering blow to a tee Thursday.
Krondorfer found Burick on the right side and once again, the senior delivered to make it 3-0 with a shade less than 18 minutes left in the first half.
"Obviously, getting that third goal was a real hard one," Wilson said.
CVCA didn’t back down and came out charging after halftime. The pesky, scrappy Royals caught Aurora’s defense a bit off-guard with a couple of hard shots in the opening minutes of the second half.
"Their heart is awesome," Wilson said of the CVCA players. "They just couldn’t find the goal. That was the difference between this game and the last game."
The key to the Greenmen’s success was their ability to neutralize the Royals’ fastest player.
Senior midfielder Kenzie Spodnik, who had a goal and an assist against Aurora Oct. 4, had no breakaway opportunities this time, thanks to Aurora’s swarming defense.
"We gave her a little bit more room," Wilson said. "What we were trying to do was shut down that pass in and not let her receive it and not let anything drop in the box. That’s how they scored against us last time."
Spodnik and junior midfielder Addy Carlson kept attacking, but the Greenmen kept getting in front of them in the final third of the field.
"We have been like that all season - not allowing the final touch," Wilson said. "If you’re going to shoot, it’s going to be from the 30 or the 20."
"We’ve been working on getting in front of the shot all season. They pushed it out wide a lot because we closed it down."
Both teams had their share of opportunities in front of the net. But Aurora capitalized, while CVCA was left cold.
The Greenmen finished with a 6-1 advantage in corner kicks and got a few key saves from sophomore goalkeeper Morgan Demagall, including a leaping grab on a long free kick.
Since it doesn’t have a powerhouse like Walsh or Twinsburg standing in its way, Aurora has a chance to make this a special postseason journey.
But Wilson will pass on looking beyond Monday’s contest with a former conference rival.
"We have a really good chance to go far," Wilson said. "We just have to take it one game a time. I think we’ve done that really well."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.