ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – Senior midfielder Jack Aerni whipped a shot past the Westlake goalkeeper a minute-and-45 seconds into overtime, as the Pirates downed the Demons, 7-6, on Friday night.
The thrilling win on Senior Night turned out to be one appropriately fueled by senior contributions up and down Head Coach Chris Skinner’s lineup. The game-winner from Aerni was his second of the contest. Senior midfielder Michael Malloy had two goals and two assists in the game. Senior attackmen Aaron Kosmerl notched a goal and two assists, and senior midfielder Michael Snow added his 15th netfinder of the season.
Senior midfielder Ian Herrmann (two ground balls, two caused turnovers) was a key contributor in River’s transition game. Senior defenseman Titus Snavely paced a stingy defensive corps with three ground balls and two caused turnovers.
“This place had such a great atmosphere tonight,” said Skinner of Rocky River Stadium. “Our 11 seniors really stepped up, and the younger guys followed. The parents and families in attendance really gave us a lift.”
What the parents and families saw early on was a Westlake squad in complete control of Friday’s game. The Demons (7-7) scored early in the first for what marked the lone goal of the opening frame. Westlake upped its lead to 2-0 at the 8:18 mark of the second. Less than a minute later, Rocky River would join the battle.
Nolan Weaver’s netfinder at 7:44 of the second got the Pirates (9-7) on the board. And, with near misses pinging off both goals and both defenses making solid plays in transition, the battle ensued. The score remained 2-1 until the 1:25-mark when Malloy found Aaron Kosmerl open on a nifty play in front of the Demon goal. With that, the two sides went into halftime knotted at 2-2.
Junior midfielder Max Kovesdy had a big first half for the home side. Kovesdy was credited with three ground balls and four caused turnovers over the first 24 minutes of play.
The game’s third quarter was a scoreless one until Michael Snow rocketed a shot into the Westlake twine at 6:21. That goal put the home side up, 3-2.
Michael Malloy scored the first of his two fourth-quarter goals just 29 seconds into the fourth, as River doubled its lead. Westlake countered quickly to cut the Pirate advantage to one (4-3), but then Jack Aerni got into the action, scoring a goal in transition at 9:13.
The Demons, however, weren’t finished. A furious back-and-forth over the final four minutes resulted in Rocky River trading one goal for three, and the two westside neighbors went into overtime.
The first shot of overtime came off Aerni’s stick. It was perfectly placed, and it vaulted River to its first overtime win of the year and its first victory over Westlake since 2013.
What ensued next was a mad dash off the Pirate bench. And Aerni was the target. The exuberant rush included coaches, freshmen, sophomores and juniors. But it was a senior moment to be sure.
NUMBERS GAME: River had just 10 shots on goal in the game. The win marked the team’s first over the last two seasons with less than 12 shots on target. Westlake managed just nine shots on goal; the Pirates have now held three foes under double-digit shots totals this season. … The Maroon & White registered 15 caused turnovers in the contest, their most in a game since March 31 (12 games). … River went 2-of-6 in extra-man opportunities. The Pirates are now 4-for-their-last-14 after going 0-for-9 over three straight games (April 28, May 3, May 5).
YOUTH IS SERVED: Freshman midfielder Andrew Snow logged important minutes in the fourth quarter on Friday. Snow went 3-2 on five faceoffs, and he garnered three ground balls and threaded his way downfield on a key clearing attempt late in the game. … Sophomore attackman Nolan Weaver notched his 21st goal of the season with his netfinder in the second quarter. Weaver had a goal, a ground ball and a caused turnover in Friday’s affair.
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