Saturday, January 28, 2023

Blue Devils win fourth straight CVC title

Adam Leibel scored four goals to lead Independence to a 6-1 win over visiting Beachwood on Tuesday. With the win, the Blue Devils won their fourth straight Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division championship.

“Settings goals last year, we wanted to win three championships in a row and this year the guys talked about it and said, ‘Why not again?’” said Independence coach Ryan MacRaild. “We lost some really talented guys (to graduation) but they just wanted to step up and be the next guy and we had a good example of that tonight.”

Leibel made a statement in finding the net four times.

“It felt great to score four goals in front of the great crowd and student section we had at the game and to help the team win our fourth straight league title,” Leibel said. “We had really good ball movement in the midfield and I was just trying my hardest to get open and following shots from Sam (Belitz) and Elek (McDonald) to put them in the net.”

Beachwood’s Spencer Shroge gave the Bison an early 1-0 lead when he finished off an assist from Seth Rosky just 4 minutes, 51 seconds into the game.

Leibel tied it 13 minutes later.

“That first goal was off of a corner kick,” MacRaild said. “He found the back post on a great crossing shot. That gave us the momentum we needed.”

Midway through the second, Leibel scored two more goals in a two-minute stretch. Both came off deflections by Sam Belitz.

“He’s got a bit of a poacher tendency,” MacRaild said of Leibel. “He was just hanging around the goal today and he got some real fortunate rebounds and placed them in off of Sam’s shots. They bounced off the goalie and Adam poked them home.”

Elek McDonald scored off of a Christian Streibel assist late in the half to give the Blue Devils a 4-1 advantage.

Leibel and Belitz both scored in the second half to finish off the Bison.

Streibel assisted on Leibel’s goal and Casey McGhee set up the Belitz goal.

Ethan Manelski recorded three saves in goal and allowed just his fifth goal of the season.

“The defense has had a great year,” MacRaild said. “In 13 games, to only give up five goals is pretty impressive. Jimmy Senick, Emmett Stralka, Joe Wisniewski, Kyle Streibel and Ethan Manelski have been bailing us out all year and working really hard behind the ball.”

The Blue Devils, who improved to 13-0 overall and completed league play with a 6-0 mark, play Holy Name 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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