Monday, February 6, 2023

Wickliffe rallies for win over Independence

Wickliffe scored three second-half goals to overcome an early deficit in a 3-1 win over Independence in a Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division showdown on Thursday.

Independence’s Alana Nowak scored early in the first half but the Wickliffe Blue Devils rallied for three goals in a short span late in the second half to pull out the victory.

“This was a full team effort,” said Wickliffe coach Steve Gribovicz. “We had players playing out of position due to injury and each held their own and contributed. The team played a full 80 controlling possession and pace the majority of the game, which led to the successful attacks in the second half.”

Independence held its 1-0 advantage until midway through the second half.

“Alana’s goal was purely will to win. She chested the ball past a high kick and then finished a beautiful shot to the corner with her off foot,” said Independence coach Bryan Less. “We played okay, but Wickliffe outworked us. Our upperclassmen, as a group, need to work harder and smarter for us to win. It is not okay to give up three goals in the last 15 minutes when we were up 1-0. Closing out that win just needed a little more effort and smart play that we just did not give.”

Wickliffe used set pieces to flip the momentum.

Ava Gabriel scored two goals and Leah Skufca added one.

“I believe our corner kicks really changed the momentum,” Gribovicz said. “Leah Skufca got her head on a corner and found the back of the net for our first goal. The second goal came off another corner where Ava Gabriel’s kick hit the back post and ricocheted into the net.”

Wickliffe’s tactics improved in the second half, which allowed the Blue Devils to control possession and set up their scoring chances.

“Our team movement and flow generated an efficient attack that pressed into our attacking third for stretches in the second half,” Gribovicz said. “Our midfielders and defenders were able to cut off their counterattacks and continue to apply pressure to secure the scoring opportunities.”

Wickliffe’s Cade Virgilio recorded four saves while Independence’s Keely Sears notched 15.

Wickliffe improved to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in league play while Independence dropped to 3-4, 2-2.

“This is a huge momentum builder for us in CVC play and at the halfway point of the season,” Gribovicz said. “We always appreciate the effort and challenge that Independence gives and know that it going to be a tough contest each time we play them.”


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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