Saturday’s 6-1 win over Oberlin won’t erase a 3-0 loss to the Phoenix in the post-season last year, but the Independence Blue Devils gained some momentum heading into this season’s playoffs.
“With the district draw this Sunday, we may face Oberlin again at some point,” said Independence head coach Ryan MacRaild, who has guided the Blue Devils to a 26-3-3 mark in his two seasons at the school. “We have some quality competition in the district with Oberlin, Elyria Catholic, Lutheran West, Columbia and a few others, so we have to continue to work hard and finish the games we play and continue to improve.”
Last year, Oberlin’s Jack McMillin did most of the damage for the Phoenix. The Blue Devils weren’t going to allow him to beat them again.
“With a little scouting and some looking back to last season, we were sure we didn’t' want Jack McMillin burning us again,” MacRaild said. “When we saw that he was in charge of the defense, we knew eventually he would have to come forward and put the pressure on our backs.”
Evan Collins scored on a penalty kick and Kevin Mewhinney scored a goal to give Independence a 2-0 lead at the break.
Oberlin then made a push in the second half, which left the backside undermanned.
The Blue Devils made them pay with four second half goals.
Wyatt Kunevicius scored off a Collins assist then turned the tables and fed Collins for his second goal of the game.
Christian Seif and Kunevicius closed out the scoring for the Blue Devils. Kunevicius banked his second goal off the crossbar.
McMillin did put one ball into the net with about 15 minutes left in the game.
Independence improved to 12-0-2 with two regular season games left to play.
“Our goal as a team this year is to finish the regular season undefeated,” MacRaild said. “Hopefully we can make that happen. It would really be a feather in the boys’ caps.”
The Blue Devils travel to VASJ on Tuesday then close out the regular season on Saturday at Wellington.