Saturday, January 28, 2023

Blue Devils continue to take shape

After opening the season with a pair of wins the Independence girls’ soccer team dropped to 2-1-1 this week after a 1-0 loss at Chagrin Valley Conference rival Berkshire then tied non-conference foe Riverside, 2-2, on Saturday.

“We did all right,” said Independence coach Bryan Less. “At Berkshire, we kind of got sucked into playing the long ball and didn’t really play the ball outside like we need to to be successful. We worked on that in training on Friday and did much better on Saturday, moving the ball outside then back in for our attack.”

Reni Kaiser recorded four saves in the loss at Berkshire. The Badgers scored with just over two minutes left in the game.

“Both teams played hard,” Less said. “Rachel Belitz played a great game at defense. She was everywhere and looks like a future stud. Also, Erin Zygmunt and Lauren St. Andrew played very well off the bench at midfield. Lauren maintained good positioning and had several good passes. Erin was very aggressive and played better as the game progressed.”

At Riverside, the Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead when Molly Dougherty distributed the ball to Riccela DiGeronimo, who then fed Paige Westerburg on a fast break. The Beavers tied it but St. Andrew gave the Blue Devils a 2-1 advantage when she punched in a rebounded shot from DiGeronimo.

“Both were very well done,” Less said of the goals. “St. Andrew, when she got her goal, it was a carbon copy of a play from five minutes earlier. Riccela had a breakaway and put the ball on the keeper. Lauren had a one-touch shot but it went wide. Five minutes later, she put it in.

Paige’s was beautiful. Molly got the ball and passed to Riccela, who hit Paige on a fast break and Paige finished it. It was very well done.”

The Beavers tied the score midway through the second half and neither team could make a game-winning play.

Kaiser recorded nine saves in the tie and now has 24 in her first four games tending the net.

Emily Reed and St. Andrew both drew praise from their coach for their efforts during the week.

“Emily struggled a bit on Thursday but she came back and had a real strong game on Saturday,” Less said. “Lauren had a strong game on Thursday and scored on Saturday. The team is developing. We’re getting better. Every game we seem to play a little better, which is all we can do.”

Independence travels to Cuyahoga Heights on Thursday.

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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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