Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Blue Devils, Hornets battle to scoreless draw

KIRTLAND—Two of the top teams in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division battled to a scoreless draw at Recreation Park on Tuesday.

Independence benefitted from the tie by remaining in first place with a 4-0-1 league mark. Kirtland now needs Berkshire to upset the Blue Devils next Tuesday to earn a share of the title.

“This team beat Lutheran West, which is ranked in the state, and they've got some great skill players in Stjepan Mijic-Barisic and Jared Ianiro, those guys are stellar,” said Independence coach Ryan MacRaild of the host Hornets. “They're at the top of the league and greater Cleveland. We just had to bend, don't break and play stellar defense.”

The defenses for both teams certainly did their part but each team’s offense had multiple chances to break the scoreless tie.

Kirtland’s Danny Jahnke recorded three saves and Independence’s Tyler Korecko record four.

“We had some great service in the box from Sanjay (Sundararajan) but we just couldn’t get on the end of it to toe-poke it home,” said Kirtland coach John Valentic. “Obviously the result is not what we wanted but the performance was good.”

Independence entered the game knowing a win or draw would keep them in the driver’s seat of the Valley Division. That allowed MacRaild to focus on stopping Kirtland’s standout players.

Freshman Jimmy Senick was assigned to cover Mijic-Barisic and Jared McCullough drew the task of keeping Ianiro away from the net.

“Jimmy Senick covered No. 11. He held him in pretty good control for a freshman against a junior stud. I'm real pleased with his work,” MacRaild said. “Tyler did a nice job in goal and Jared covered Jared Ianiro to help neutralize him as much as we could.”

Independence’s defense forced the Hornets to stretch the field.

“We basically got into a long ball contest, which took us out of our game a little bit,” MacRaild said. “We worked a lot these past couple days on defending the long ball because I knew that would be coming. We didn't play a really pretty game of soccer but 0-0 was good for us.”

Kirtland maintained its attack but came up empty.

“I'm proud of our guys,” Valentic said. “We played to win. We played to attack and score and we still kept ourselves strong on the defense and not susceptible to counterattacks.”

Independence is now 9-1-2 on the year. The Blue Devils travel to Oberlin on Saturday. Kirtland is 7-3-1 overall and 3-1-1 in league play. The Hornets travel to Elyria Catholic on Thursday.


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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