Thursday, August 18, 2022

Streak ends but Blue Devils clinch league title

Independence’s streak of 11 consecutive shutouts came to an end in Tuesday’s 6-1 win at Beachwood, leaving the Blue Devils in third place in Ohio High School Athletic Association history for consecutive clean sheets.

Cleveland Indians 2016 American League Champs

The disappointment of allowing a goal for the first time in 12 games was lessened when the Blue Devils realized their win clinched a third straight Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title.

“After Beachwood scored on us we lost a little momentum because the boys were taking some pride in their shutout streak, but I told them, ‘Third in the record book is a nice cherry on top of a fun season and that record will be there for a while,’” said Independence coach Ryan MacRaild. “It was a preseason goal to win the league again, which isn’t always a foregone conclusion in the up and down CVC, but the guys wanted to get the three-peat and took care of their business on that end of things.”

Seamus Kral scored two first half goals and Wyatt Kunevicius did the same in the second half for the Blue Devils, who improved to 14-0 overall and 6-0 in league play.

“After a bit of a sloppy first half we started to move the ball a little better around the field,” MacRaild said. “We had a little more distribution and composure on the ball. The young Beachwood team kept their shape well and worked hard on both sides of the ball, but ultimately we were able to break through for a few more chances in the end.”

Sam Belitz and Marco DiGeronimo added goals in the second half of the win.

“Sam Belitz worked really hard in the center of the field today,” MacRaild said. “The defense held on after a shaky start and corrected some things while the forwards had chances on goal. It is nice to have a balanced attack and not just rely on one or even two guys to score goals for us. We have four or five legitimate goal scorers and a few others that can capitalize when needed. We still have some work ahead of us, but with two more regular season games and playoffs starting, we are ready to see what October brings.”

Independence hosts Columbia on Saturday.

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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