Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Independence breaks down Lake Ridge Academy

With Wyatt Kunevicius sidelined for the early part of the season, Sam Belitz stepped up to do most of the scoring for the Independence soccer team. Kunevicius returned earlier this week but Belitz continues to find the net.

The sophomore scored three goals in Thursday’s 8-0 win over visiting Lake Ridge Academy, giving him seven hat tricks in nine games. Kunevicius scored two goals for the second time this week and Luke Wisniewski, Seamus Kral and Nate Wells all found the net once in the win.

“Having Wyatt back helps strengthen our attack and takes pressure off other guys to score,” said Independence coach Ryan MacRaild. “Sam will be the center of attention from here on out and we will have to distribute to our other attacking options, which I have great confidence in.”

Belitz, Kunevicius, Wells, Christian Seif, Jimmy Senick and Christian Streibel all had assists for the Blue Devils and Ethan Manelski had one save in recording the Blue Devils’ sixth shutout of the season and third straight.

“Shout out to freshman Ethan Manelski for stepping in for a sick Tyler Korecko and recording his first shutout as the starting goalkeeper,” MacRaild said. “Lake Ridge was a well-coached but young team. They played organized in the back but we were able break down a few opportunities to create some chances. We worked well on defense, building our communication and finding ways to get the ball up the field while keeping organized in the buildup.”

Things get much more difficult for the Blue Devils, who improved to 8-1 on the season.

Independence plays at No. 9 Lutheran West on Monday then hosts Elyria Catholic on Thursday. Kirtland visits Stan Skoczen Stadium on Tuesday, Sept. 27 in a showdown for first place in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.

“In the end it was a win, but we are preparing for the rest of the season including Lutheran West on Monday, Kirtland in the CVC next week and tuning up for the playoffs,” MacRaild said.

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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