Friday, September 22, 2023

Independence dominates in sectional final

Sam Belitz recorded his eighth hat trick of the season to lead Independence to an 8-0 win over visiting Open Door Christian School in a Division III sectional championship game on Saturday.

With the win, the top-seeded Blue Devils advanced to Tuesday’s district semifinal against No. 5 Wellington.

“We know that any game, any day can change our season,” Independence coach Ryan MacRaild said. “Looking at other scores, seeds two, three and four were all bumped. We need to watch our backs, work hard and take care of our own business. We don’t take for granted the fact that sectional championships are just handed out. We have to work for what we get and the road isn’t going to be any easier out of our district.”

Seamus Kral scored one minute into the game and the Blue Devils never looked back.

Christian Streibel, Elek McDonald, Adam Leibel and Aidan Cojohn also scored for the Blue Devils. Belitz and Casey McGhee also recorded assists in the game.

Belitz scored his first goal off of a backheel flick from Leibel. His second came off of a Streibel corner kick and his third resulted from an intercepted pass.

“It felt good for our team to start the playoffs on a high note,” Belitz said. “The quality of soccer today was very good and if we can keep this up, advancing will continue to come with it. I’m playing every game like it’s my last because it’s possible that it could be, but I’m not ready to let that happen.”

Ethan Manelski recorded one save while Danny Mewhinney finished with two.

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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