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    Double hat trick highlights Independence win


    Riccela DiGeronimo and Alana Nowak both recorded hat tricks and Alex Adams contributed with two goals in leading Independence to an 8-3 win at Columbia on Monday.

    “We had two firsts,” Independence coach Bryan Less said. “In 16 years, it was my first ever double hat trick and the first time we’ve ever give up three goals after an 8-0 lead. I’ve never had two girls give up hat tricks and I didn’t even realize it until after the game.”

    The Blue Devils held an 8-0 lead before Columbia found the net.

    Unlike last season when Independence needed 42 shots to pull out a 3-0 win over Columbia, the Blue Devils were more precise in their offensive attack.

    “In the first eight minutes, I was worried because we had several shots that were just wide or at the goalie and then we started scoring,” Less said. “The shots counted. They were hard and put them on goal. We had some individual efforts and we had some nice passes too.”

    DiGeronimo, a senior, has consistently been a threat for the Blue Devils.

    She added two assists on Monday as well.

    “It’s a very exciting time when even one player on the team gets a hat trick but to have two players is even more special, especially when a freshman does it in her second game as a varsity athlete,” DeGeronimo said. “It was an exciting moment for her and I and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

    As always, the Blue Devils found a way to get DeGeronimo the ball and she took it from there.

    “My teammates did a great job of dishing it behind them to find me for a shot around the top of the box,” she said. “The forwards also made great runs to be able to find them and transition up the field together.”

    Nowak opened the season against Kirtland in the forward position.

    Less moved her to the midfield and she made the most of her new opportunity with three goals and an assist.

    “Against Kirtland, we had her mostly playing forward, which is a tough spot, especially for a freshman,” Less said. “We moved her to outside-mid. That put her in a position where she was going against fewer people and she could use her speed. She was just running past defenders and we were swinging her the ball.”

    Nowak has had quite a few days.

    On Saturday, she finished among the top 5 at a cross country invitational and on Monday she broke out on the soccer field.

    “Tonight’s game was a great first win of the season,” Nowak said. “The team came out aggressive and ready after our tough first game at Kirtland. I came into today’s game excited after a big weekend for cross country and used that momentum to fuel my game tonight. My teammates made a lot of good passes to me and I made hard, aggressive runs down the left side towards the goal. We moved the ball quickly and efficiently to create chances.”

    Adams and Sophie George also had assists for the Blue Devils and Maria Bellito and Keely Sears both recorded three saves in the win.

    Independence hosts Lutheran West on Thursday.

    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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