Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Independence downs Oberlin, sets up rematch with Beachwood

Paige Westerburg scored a pair of goals and Alex Adams and Hannah MacRaild each added one to lead Independence to a 4-0 win over visiting Oberlin in a Division III sectional semifinal on Monday.

With the win, the Blue Devils set up a rematch with Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division rival Beachwood in Thursday’s sectional championship game.

“We played very well tonight,” said Independence coach Bryan Less. “We had good passing and some creative combinations. Our only problem is something that has been with us all season, finishing. We had eight shots in the first 10 minutes and 20 at the half but only led 1-0. The defense did a very nice job of passing long balls back to Reni (Kaiser) in the net, which is something we have been missing most of the season.”

Kaiser finished with four saves.

MacRaild, a freshman, tipped in a corner off a deflection from Erin Zygmunt to break the scoreless tie in the first half. The goal was the first of MacRaild’s career.

“It was great to get my first goal in the playoffs, really because it was off a corner and we have been working on it in practice,” MacRaild said. “It helps to get my first goal because I have mostly been playing in a wide position and I have had some chances previously. It’s nice to build momentum into our next match with a few goals.”

Westerburg’s first goal came early in the second half when she finished off a swing pass from Riccela DiGeronimo.

Adams made it 3-0 when she scored off a Sophie George pass and Westerburg closed out the scoring with an individual effort play.

“On my first goal, I was waiting on the right side and (DiGeronimo) was able to deliver a nice pass to me. I shot it with my left foot to the back post on the opposite side,” Westerburg said. “My second goal happened when I tracked down the ball and made a move to beat the defender. I ripped a shot with my right foot and it went over the goalie into the top left corner.”

The Blue Devils will return to Beachwood on Thursday for the second time this month. Beachwood defeated Independence, 2-1, and prevented the Blue Devils from winning their first league title in school history.

“It will be nice to get a rematch with Beachwood,” Less said. “We were just there two weeks ago and they outplayed and outhustled us. Hopefully, the hard work in training and difficult schedule will pay off.”

Independence is eager for that rematch.

“It is very exciting,” Westerburg said. “My teammates and I are looking forward to a rematch against a team that stopped us from achieving one of our goals this season.”

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, 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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