Monday, March 27, 2023

Blue Devils claim first CVC title

Independence’s long title draught is over.

The Blue Devils defeated Berkshire, 8-1, on Tuesday to clinch their first Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division championship and first league title since winning the Metropolitan Area Conference back in 1997.

“I am pleased with our effort,” said Independence coach Ryan MacRaild. “We battled through the league this fall, played some tough games against Beachwood, Kirtland and the rest of the league, and were fortunate enough to put our talent in the right places at the right time this year.”

Independence, ranked sixth in the latest Division III state coaches’ poll, improved to 10-0-2 on the year and finished league play at 5-0-1.

The Blue Devils wasted little time jumping on the visiting Badgers.

Evan Collins scored two goals and Christian Seif and Nolan Fields each added one to give Independence a 4-0 lead just six minutes into the game. Collins assisted on Seif’s goal and Kevin Mewhinney set up Fields’ goal.

Later in the first half, Seif scored again off a Fields assist and a Drew Benos goal made it 6-0 at the break.

Collins’ third goal made it 7-0 early in the second half before Berkshire’s Jack Reed found the net against Independence’s JV squad.

For Collins, the CVC title was validation of the work he and his teammates have put in to restore Independence’s winning ways.

“Winning the CVC this season is a statement of our dedication and work ethic as a team,” Collins said. “It had a lot of meaning to us to bring Independence soccer back into the conversation, since this is our first title since we won it in 1997 in the MAC 8.”

Independence’s Brad Wartroba closed out the scoring with his first varsity goal. Justin Bernstein assisted.

The Blue Devils host Brooklyn on Thursday.

“We have a lot of work to go this season with four games remaining and with playoffs looming we want to sharpen our game for a late October push,” MacRaild said. “Being ranked in the state now, I can guarantee there are a few teams looking to knock us off.”

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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