Monday, June 17

    Nowak sets school assist record in Independence’s postseason upset

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    Independence used a second-half Casey Adams header to secure a 1-0 upset win over host Orrville in a Division III sectional championship game on Wednesday.

    Alana Nowak served up the corner kick that led to Adams’ heady play. The assist was her 16th of the season moving her into first place on Independence’s all-time list of assists in a single season.

    “Every time I lined up for a corner kick during the game, I was hoping someone could put a foot or a body on it and knock it in,” Nowak said. “It’s a fantastic feeling to have all my hard work, blood, sweat, and tears pay off for this record. I’m so happy and honored to put my name in the school record book.”

    With the score tied 0-0 midway through the second half, Nowak and Adams combined to score what proved to be the game-winning goal.

    “I just line up, take my time, and try and hit an arching ball that will land in the center of the box,” Nowak said of her productive corner kick attempts. “Lifting more had given me a lot of strength, and also having the confidence to hit a solid ball. Practice makes perfect and three years of taking them has really prepared me for this moment.”

    Adams outjumped the Orrville defense and put her head on the ball for the finish.

    “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen her head a corner kick,” said Independence coach Bryan Less of Adams’ finish. “We played really well and we were prepared because that’s what our season does for us. We play good teams and virtually every game we played was a one-goal game, so we had to bring our A-game every time or we were going to lose. They had a nice game plan against us but we did what we had to do.”

    Adams and Nowak are credited with the game-winning goal but Less praised his defense for its effort in shutting down the Orrville offense.

    “I gave the player of the game to the defensive unit,” he said. “Bryanna LeRoy, Allie Bohrer, Katelyn Deblock, Sara Messina-Dysert, and Maddie Flynn did a really great job. Bryanna twisted her ankle in the first half so I had to pull Makena Rini back for about 15 minutes and then I put Casey at center back for the last five or 10 minutes. They did what was expected and what we needed to do to get a win.”

    Keely Sears recorded 12 saves in notching her fifth clean sheet of the season.

    “That’s a lot but she really didn’t have to work hard,” Less said. “They had 15 shots and we had 12, so shots were pretty even. She had 12 real saves but they were all deep shots or outside.”

    The 17th-seeded Blue Devils, who improved to 8-8-2, knocked off the ninth-seeded Red Riders and now will look for a second straight upset when they travel to No. 5 Norwayne on Monday.

    “We are so excited to be moving on and can’t wait to face Norwayne,” Nowak said. “We’ve been strong as a unit and are only going to use this to fuel our fire.”

    Norwayne won its sectional title by defeating Cuyahoga Heights 7-0. Independence beat Cuyahoga Heights during the regular season, 1-0, but that was before Less made some key lineup changes.

    “That was early in the season,” Less said of the narrow win over Cuyahoga Heights. “Casey was still playing defense and we passed up some golden opportunities.”




    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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