Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Blue Devils advance to fourth straight district final

Sam Belitz scored three goals and Adam Leibel added two to lead Independence to an 8-0 win over visiting Wellington in a Division III district semifinal on Tuesday.

The Blue Devils, who improved to 18-0, will play Lake Ridge Academy in the district championship game at Cuyahoga Heights on Oct. 27.

“The boys are focused on winning their third straight district in their fourth appearance,” Independence coach Ryan MacRaild said. “We have been working on playing faster and being more effective in the final third. The boys are really working hard on both sides of the ball and finding success.”

Elek McDonald, Christian Streibel and Brad Watroba also scored for the Blue Devils. Casey McGhee and McDonald each recorded a pair of assists and Leibel finished with one.

“My first goal was created from good ball movement by the entire team and a great cross in that I headed into the back of the net,” Leibel said. “My second goal I just put the ball in past the keeper after Elek McDonald headed it from a great cross.”

Ethan Manelski recorded two saves and Danny Mewhinney finished with five in posting Independence’s 12th shutout of the year and third straight.

“As a team, we have been playing really well all season and we have been improving even more in the playoffs so we have a lot of confidence and are excited to try to win our third straight district final,” Leibel said. “We are going to have to keep improving and playing at the top of our game to beat Lake Ridge Academy and get back to regionals.”

Independence and Lake Ridge Academy met during the regular season with the Blue Devils coming out on top, 8-0.

Steve Hare
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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