Monday, February 26, 2024

Blue Devils open new era with win over Lincoln West

After coaching Lake Ridge Academy to district titles in 2007 and 2008, Ryan MacRaild on Monday opened a new chapter in his coaching career when he led Independence to a 3-1 win over Lincoln West.

Nolan Fields, Dave Wisniewski and Wyatt Kunevicius all scored first half goals and Joe Bernstein recorded 7 saves to lead the Blue Devils to the season-opening win on the brand new field turn installed at Stan Skoczen Stadium.

“We opened the season today with our first win on the new turf,” said MacRaild, who improved to 71-55-15 as a head coach. “We actually scored 45 seconds into the game. We were pretty jacked up to get out there and get a new season underway.”

Fields opened the scoring with a 30-yard laser that was too tough to handle for Lincoln West’s keeper.

“He just blasted it,” MacRaild said. “It hit the goalie’s hands and went in. He really crushed it.”

Kunevicius scored Independence’s second goal and Wisniewski closed out the first half scoring to put the Blue Devils up, 3-0.

“Wyatt scored on a misplayed ball. The ball came out to the wing and it deflected off a defender and he headed it in,” MacRaild said. “Wisniewski came out of the right wing, across the box, and made a run out of the box and came up and buried it in the net.”

The Blue Devils (1-0) relied on keeper Joe Bernstein to maintain the lead. He recorded seven saves.

“He’s our foundation; our captain and our leader,” MacRaild said. “He’s a great goalie. He’s Mr. Steady. He made some good plays and made some good saves when he had to.”

Lincoln West scored in the second half and made it difficult for the Blue Devils to add to their lead.

“They just kept pressuring and pressuring and pressuring,” MacRaild said. “They were really quick. They were all over us the whole game. It was hard to build rhythm. There were a lot of turnovers on our part and a lot of giveaways. That’s a tribute to their pressure.”

The Blue Devils travel to Columbia on Thursday.

Steve Hare
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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