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.