ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – A dominant Rocky River victory, coupled with a Bay loss, spelled a Great Lakes Conference championship-earning night for the Pirates on Wednesday.
For their part, the Pirates clobbered the Normandy Invaders, 9-0, in notching their first home victory since Sept. 14. Rocky River scored five goals in the first half and four in the second in tying the team’s 2019 single-game high for goals (9-0 vs. Zanesville, Sept. 2). Sophomores Taylor Byall and Sophia Murray each tallied a pair of goals in the onslaught, as the Pirates (8-5-2, 7-0-1 GLC) snapped a two-game losing streak.
The contest closed out Great Lakes Conference play for the Pirates and Invaders. During the evening clash at Rocky River Stadium, two other GLC foes – Buckeye and Bay – were meeting a couple clicks west. By way of a Sept. 11 draw against the Pirates, the Rockets went into Wednesday’s action with a 6-0-1 mark. The Rockets fell to third place in the conference standings with a 3-1 loss to the Bucks.
The GLC title marks the second for Rocky River (2018) and the program’s first of an outright variety. The Pirates have now won seven conference titles in their history.
On Wednesday, the Pirates opened the game’s scoring just one minute-and-27 seconds in when Sophia Murray ripped a twine-finder past the Normandy goalkeeper from the doorstep. River would double its lead in the fifth minute when a lengthy pass from Lizzie Hamker found Taylor Byall charging toward the left goal post. Byall took a dribble and rocketed a 10-yarder into the net. In the sixteenth minute, Alexandra Pike got in on the act with a 10-yard score.
Rocky River’s 3-0 lead was built on possession time and proximity. The Pirates applied constant pressure, allowing the ball onto their side of the field sparingly over the opening half of play. Hamker, Cara McKenna, Samantha Miller and Maya Patti pulled the strings in running a dominant ball-control offense for the Pirates. Over the opening 30 minutes of action, Rocky River outshot Normandy, 12-0, taking five corners to none for the Invaders.
Addie Harris lofted a 21-yarder over the Normandy ‘keeper to extend River’s lead in the 33rd minute. The final goal of the
opening half came in the 38th minute, when a well-laid steep-angle
cross from Maya Patti found Byall inside the left post. Byall banged the ball
over the goal line, and the Pirates would go into halftime leading 5-0.
Over the opening 40 minutes of play, Rocky River outshot
Normandy, 20-0. River put 13 shots on frame.
Hamker, Miller, Murray and Patti were responsible for the four
Pirate goals in the second half.
Rocky River is now 5-0 against Normandy since 2015 when the GLC was formed. Wednesday’s contest wasn’t exactly memorable as a taut back-and-forth. But it ended as some of the best events in sports do – with an on-field trophy photo and a roster full of smiles.
CANNON FIRE …
ON DECK: Wednesday’s contest marked the front half of River playing back-to-back home games on back-to-back nights. The Pirates will host Hawken on Thursday at 6 p.m.
BRACKET BUCS: Rocky River has earned a No. 1 seed and a bye in the upcoming Oct. 14-24 DII Elyria District Tournament. The Pirates will host the winner of an 8/9 match-up – Fairview vs. Padua – at Rocky River Stadium on Oct. 17 (7 p.m.). River has been a district finalist three of the last four years.
CONFERENCE CALL: Rocky River has finished in the top-3 of West Shore Conference (2005-14) and Great Lakes Conference (2015-present) in 15 straight years. The Pirates were WSC champs in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014, and they have now won back-to-back GLC crowns in 2018-19. … The Girls’ Soccer squad is the fourth River team to earn a conference title this fall (Girls’ Golf, Boys’ Golf, Girls’ Tennis).
By Skip Snow
# # # pirates # # #