Monday, January 30, 2023

Belitz reaches milestone in Independence’s win at Columbia

Independence senior Sam Belitz scored three goals to lead the Blue Devils to a 9-1 win at Columbia on Saturday.

Among those goals was the 100th of his career.

“The funny thing is that it wasn’t even a milestone on my radar,” said Belitz, who celebrated the achievement by committing to continue his education and playing career at Grove City College on Sunday. “I never imagined I’d have anywhere close to 100 goals in my high school career. It’s still sinking in.”

The hat trick was the third of the season for Belitz, who now has seven goals in nine games this season.

“Sam’s career has been supported by other great players over the years,” said Independence coach Ryan MacRaild. “His athleticism, work ethic and determination have been an asset to our teams during his four years and his love of the game is evident in the way he plays.”

Belitz was named first team All-Ohio as a junior.

His impressive start to this season has helped the Blue Devils to a 5-0 record this fall and a 48-1-2 mark in the regular season matches during his time on the squad.

“The driving force for me playing soccer is and always has been God. He gave me these gifts, so I’m trying to give back to him as much as I can,” Belitz said. “As I continue the rest of my senior season and move on to what college has in store, playing for God and for my teammates motivates me every day. I’m focused on playing the best I can for this team. I just want to help us win and go as far as we can in the playoffs. Any individual awards or accomplishments are incredible, but still secondary to team goals.”

Adam Leibel and Elek McDonald both contributed to Saturday’s win with two goals while John Eisenmann and Emmett Stralka both had one.

McDonald also finished with an assist as did Seamus Kral, Brad Watroba and Christian Streibel.

MacRaild reached a milestone on Saturday as well. The win was the 140th of his career and also his 70th win with assistant coach Gino Manocchio at Independence.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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