Thursday, September 23, 2021

Blue Devils shut out Wellington

Independence’s historic season continued with a 3-0 win at Wellington on Saturday.

The Blue Devils, ranked fourth in the latest Division III state coaches’ poll, recorded their 11th straight shutout of the season to move into third place all-time in Ohio High School Athletic Association history for consecutive shutouts in a single season.

“Wellington has a nice build up counterattack,” said Independence coach Ryan MacRaild. “We organized to neutralize Cole McClean, their top scorer. Jimmy Senick man-marked him. It was a fun battle to watch, two warriors going at it, but ultimately we kept up the pressure in the second half and broke it open.”

Cleveland Indians 2016 American League Champs

Wellington, which had received votes in the latest state rankings, entered the game averaging four goals per contest.

Sam Belitz, Elek McDonald and Seamus Kral all scored goals for the Blue Devils and Wyatt Kunevicius had a pair of assists and McDonald pitched in on another goal in the win, but it was Senick’s effort on defense that made the biggest difference in keeping McLean off the scoreboard.

McLean entered the game with 18 goals in 11 games.

“I knew going into the game that (he) had a lot of speed and skill, so it took everything I had and keeping a strong composure to keep the ball out of his feet,” Senick said. “I am extremely satisfied that I was able to shut him down and that I was able to rely on the rest of the defense to take care of everyone else.”

Marco DiGeronimo and Ethan Manelski also played well in the win.

Independence can move into a tie for second place in Ohio high school history with a shutout at Beachwood on Tuesday.

“It is really something special that will part of the legacy of this team, but we come out every game with the focus of winning,” Senick said. “The shutouts are a nice addition, however, and really reflect on the strength of our defense this year.”

The Blue Devils improved to 13-0 on the year while Wellington dropped to 7-5.

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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