Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Blue Devils blank the Badgers

BURTON—A healthy roster helped Independence snap a four-game losing skid on Thursday.

Ellie Clymer returned to the lineup which allowed Blue Devils coach Bryan Less to put both Ashley Henderson and Julia Gutermuth up front. They responded with a 3-0 win over host Berkshire.

Henderson scored twice and Gutermuth scored the other goal.

“It was nice having Ellie Clymer back,” Less said. “She’s one of our center backs, a senior captain. She’s been out for two-plus weeks. Part of the thing that hurt us is when she went out I had to take Ashley and Julia and they were running the defense, so they couldn’t work together and get all the nice stuff going on offense.”

Henderson made it 1-0 off an assist from Daniella Radujkovic and scored her second goal off a goalie deflection.

“She stayed on it and put it on the goal,” Less said.

Gutermuth closed out the scoring.

“The first half we had some lulls here and there but in the second half we controlled the pace,” Less said. “They worked hard for the entire game. I told the girls they aren’t always going to be the better team so they have to outwork them. I told them if they outwork them they’ll win and they did that.”

The Blue Devils did a nice job of taking what they learned in practice and applying it in a game situation.

“We have a lot of inexperienced players; they’re not all young but they’re inexperienced,” Less said. “The last couple days in training we were doing a lot of crossing with my outside (midfielders) and it helped. We got the ball out and we got the ball back in and we were able to space them out because this team usually just kind of condenses on the center, but we were able to get the ball outside enough where their outside backs had to push out. That’s why the little lanes were there for Daniella and the forwards to work the ball through.”

Martha Clymer also played a big role in distributing the ball to the forwards.

“It’s only her second year of soccer ever so she’s not doing too badly,” Less said. “She won a lot of balls and did a nice job of doing what I asked putting the ball diagonally to the corner for the outside mids.”

Jasmine Harb, Christina Brunsman and Olivia Jones also drew praise from their coach for their efforts in the win.

“Jasmine Harb, I’ve been putting her back the last couple games so I could have Julia and Ashley up and she’s done a nice job,” Less said. “Another difference too in our last game, Christina Brunsman was sick and didn’t play. She’s another one that’s never played soccer before. She’s got good speed and just having her on the field was nice. She doesn’t always know what she’s doing but she’s always putting in effort.

“Olivia Jones had a good game at center back. She stepped up and put a lot of balls to corners. She’s done really well this year, especially without Ellie. When Ellie went down she really stepped up and is having a really good season for us.”

Henderson and Gutermuth are both tied for the team lead in goals with four each.

“They’re good and experienced,” Less said. “Ashley already as a junior is a two-time all-conference player. She has played forward with some really good players in the past so she knows what she’s doing. I hear her talking a lot to the younger players. Literally, as she’s running she’s shouting out where they need to go. It’s nice helping to teach them and Julia is much improved from last year. Both of them played two years of offseason soccer so that really has helped them and they work well together.”

Independence improved to 2-4 overall and 1-1 in Chagrin Valley Conference play.

The Blue Devils host Wickliffe on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.


Steve Hare
Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, 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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