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    Blue Devils earn draw with Columbia


    After opening the season with a 6-0-1 record, Independence on Monday kicked off a stretch of games that could have a big impact on the team’s success down the stretch. The Blue Devils kicked off that challenging three-game stretch on Monday against Columbia and will travel to Elyria Catholic on Thursday before returning home for a conference showdown with Kirtland.

    Thanks to Kevin Mewhinney’s goal off a Sam Belitz assist, the Blue Devils earned a 1-1 draw with the Raiders, who ended the game 6-1-1 on the season.

    “Both teams had specific game plans that they wanted to enforce and they were pretty evident between the halves,” said Independence coach Ryan MacRaild. “We seemed to control the first half with possession and disruption while Columbia controlled the second half with direct play and pressure."

    Columbia scored the opening goal off a set play the Blue Devils struggled to defend.

    The Blue Devils responded.

    “We scored on a jailbreak that started with Evan Collins distributing to Sam Belitz who found Kevin Mewhinney streaking through the back line and finishing with a quality strike to the back post to beat the keeper,” MacRaild said. “This, ironically, was Sam's first assist of the season and could not have come at a better time.”

    Independence goalkeeper Tyler Korecko kept the Blue Devils in the game with three clutch second half saves.

    “Tyler Korecko had a big game in goal, arguably the biggest game he has played in for us,” MacRaild said. “Coach (Gino) Mannochio has been working every day with our (goalkeeper) group and the effort is evident in our young keepers’ growth.”

    Independence is 6-0-2 on the year.


    Steve Hare
    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. 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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