Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Blue Devils fall short in regional semifinal

Independence’s historic season came to an end with a 3-1 loss to Archbold in a Division III regional semifinal at Cedar Point Stadium in Sandusky on Wednesday.

The Blue Devils, who won back-to-back Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division titles and the first district championship in school history, closed out the season with a 16-2-2 record.

“I’m very proud of this group of players and what they have accomplished this season, the first ever district title for boys soccer at Independence, back-to-back league champs, back-to-back 16-win seasons all after graduating seven starters,” said Independence coach Ryan MacRaild. “We went in against a tough team in Archbold and held our own. They had only given up seven goals in their 19 games so we knew scoring would be at a premium. They were very organized and well coached.”

Archbold scored two first half goals and added another in the final 40 minutes.

Junior Sam Belitz notched Independence’s only score midway through the second half.

“I couldn't be happier with our season,” Belitz said. “Everyone counted us out because they thought we graduated this all-star great team of seniors but we showed that hard work and determination can take you farther than just good talent.”

Independence will graduate four seniors but the several key players return.

MacRaild hopes the Blue Devils continue to build on their success.

“Young guys stepped up this year and the upperclassmen took leadership roles to really solidify our championship mentality,” MacRaild said. “I am excited to see the future of this team graduating only four seniors, who will be missed, but more importantly returning eight starters gives us a great foundation to build on for 2017.”

Independence senior Krista DeFini contributed to this story.


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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