NORTH RIDGEVILLE — It was Adam Severs 2, Independence nil.
The junior’s two second-half goals put top-seeded Lake Ridge Academy (15-4) in the Division III regional for the first time in school history Thursday with a 2-0 revenge victory over second-seeded Independence (13-5-1) at Lake Ridge.
Last year, Independence beat Lake Ridge in a shootout to eliminate the Lions in the district semifinal. The two teams have met four straight seasons in the district with each winning two.
Severs’ first goal, the only one the Lions ended up needing, was on a header off a rebound shot by Sami Ibrahim that bounced off the upper crossbar and into the net with 19:20 left in the second half.
It was Ibrahim’s sudden-death goal that gave the Lions a semifinal win over Oberlin on Monday. Severs’ second score came on a shot from 20 yards out off a beautiful pass from the right by Nathan Kafity with only 1:55 remaining.
Up until Severs’ initial goal, the match was a defensive struggle dominated by Independence in the first half and Lake Ridge in the second. Helped by a strong wind, the Lions outshot the Blue Devils 7-6 in the last half after Independence had an 11-3 wind-aided shot-advantage in the first.
“I haven’t had too many header goals this year, maybe two or three,” said Severs, who leads the Lions with 24 goals. “It felt really good. It’s great to be on a team this season that was the first to get out of the district in school history. And beating Independence was really special. They’ve been a rival or ours in the tournaments. So after losing in a shootout to them last year this was a little bit of a revenge.
“Nathan did a great job on his pass down the sidelines. And our defense was fantastic. We shut them down.”
Lake Ridge opens regional play Tuesday at 7 at Bay High School against Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas, a 3-0 winner over Canton Central Catholic in another district final Thursday.
“This is awesome,” Lake Ridge coach Ryan MacRaild said. “We knew it would be a battle. But we scouted them well and knew what was coming and we finished them off. The kids were excited today, but not nervous. They are a loose bunch. The boys had their goal set before the season to win the district. The talent is here and it looks good for next year, too, because we lose only three starters.
“Severs is amazing. The ball finds him and he finds the ball. He’s a scoring whiz.”
Can the Lions go all the way?\
“We’ve come this far, why not?” MacRaild said.
“I thought we played decently the first 40 minutes,” Independence coach Randall McClure said. “But Lake Ridge did an excellent job of keeping our attacking players out of the mix.”
Lake Ridge beat Independence 1-0 in the regular season.
Lake Ridge 2, Independence 0
GOALS: Adam Severs 2
ASSISTS: Nathan Kafity
SHOTS: Lake Ridge 10, Independence 17
SAVES: (LR) Diego Chada 7. (I) Zak Kruszynski 3
CORNER KICKS: Lake Ridge 3, Independence 3.