Wednesday, April 24

    Walchanowicz hat trick leads Independence to postseason win

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    Senior Joseph Walchanowicz recorded the first hat trick of his career in leading Independence to a 7-0 win over visiting Tuslaw in a Division III sectional semifinal on Monday.

    With the win, the Blue Devils improved to 10-6-1 overall and advanced to host Columbia in a sectional championship game on Thursday at 6:00 p.m.

    “A hat trick is a very exciting accomplishment, especially in a win-or-go-home playoff game,” Walchanowicz said. “I’ve had a few two-goal games so finally getting that hat trick felt really good.”

    Khalil McDonald struck first and Mark Pillar added back-to-back goals to push the lead to 3-0.

    Walchanowicz scored the next three as Independence settled into a 6-0 halftime lead.

    “My first goal came off of a shot by Nathan Bernstein that was blocked by one of Tuslaw’s defenders that landed right in front of my feet where I slipped the ball right past the goalkeeper,” Walchanowicz said. “My second goal came from a beautiful cross from Mark Pillar where he placed the ball right on my foot. I tapped it into the left side of the goal. My final goal came from an overlapping run where Khalil McDonald gave me a beautiful pass to the right side where I found the far left side of the net.”

    McDonald scored his second goal of the game in the second half to close out the scoring. He also assisted on three goals. Nathan Bernstein, Jaime Panichi, and Pillar each assisted on one goal.

    The fifth-seeded Blue Devils head into Thursday’s sectional final playing confidently and eager to advance.

    “The team is very confident going into these next games knowing that most of us have a decent amount of playoff experience and even PK shootout experience,” Walchanowicz said.


    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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