Blue Devils score comeback win over Lutheran West

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Freshman Riccela DiGeronimo scored two goals in Independence’s 4-3 win over visiting Lutheran West on Monday but it’s the second one that Blue Devils fans will remember.

DiGeronimo, who earlier was fouled in the box to set up a Molly Dougherty penalty kick that tied the game at 3-3 with four minutes left, used her powerful left leg to deliver the game-winner with a minute remaining in the contest.

“It was a 20-yard shot and she was falling back,” said Independence coach Bryan Less. “The goalie got a late start and it went over the goalie’s head. It was chaos after that. They put the ball down and went hard. I was yelling to the girls to get the ball out of bounds. They had a free kick with 10 seconds left but it went wide.”

Lutheran West took a 1-0 lead early in the first half but Makenna McGhee quickly tied it off an assist from Dougherty.

“She took a pass from Molly and stayed in the right position,” Less said. “It was a simple one-touch in the net.”

The Longhorns added a second goal with 12 minutes left in the first half.

Independence controlled possession for most of the final 40 minutes of play and tied the game on DiGeronimo’s first goal, but again the Longhorns responded to take a 3-2 lead.

Dougherty’s penalty kick evened the game and DiGeronimo won it in dramatic fashion.

“I’ve been telling the girls that we had to learn how to win these close games and this was one of those,” Less said. “We were making mental mistakes in the first half but we cleaned those up and did a nice job in the second half.”

Reni Kaiser recorded four saves in goal and Erin Zygmunt drew praise from her coach for her efforts in the midfield.

“Erin Zygmunt had real nice game at center mid,” Less said. “She did a nice job of controlling the ball and putting it outside. She also had her first-ever header off a punt. She would not head a ball at all last year so that was nice to see.”

DiGeronimo now leads the Blue Devils with eight goals this season.

“She’s a finisher,” Less said. “She’s got some strength, so she gives us that as well.”

The Blue Devils, who improved to 5-2-1 overall, host Lake Ridge Academy on Thursday.

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, 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 IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com 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.