ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (May 20, 2023) -- The Striped Buccaneers rode a monster first half to a dominant 17-3 conquest over the Westlake Demons in a Saturday matinee contest marking a DII Region 5 Tournament
With the Pirates applying pressure on the attack and the River ride spoiling the majority of Westlake clears, the Maroon & White took full control of the contest early. Even with superb stops turned in by Westlake netminder Ava Kennedy, Rocky River bolted to a 7-0 lead in the opening 12 mimnutes of play. Field tilt was nearly-100% leaning Rocky River's way throughout the entire first half -- a period that reached running-clock status by the 4:12-mark -- and River ran itself to an 11-0 lead by halftime.
Kennedy had nine saves in the opening half and would have 16 for the game. That performance early was all the more impressive considering that her view from the Westlake goal must have been a dizzying one, with the Pirates applying pressure from both sides of the goal, behind the cage, and all along the 8-meter arc. Seven different players found twine in that opening half, one that saw the Pirates outshoot the Demons 27-2.
The second stanza was an abbreviated one, with the Buccaneers utilizing their depth in a rolling-clock sprint to a 17-3 finish line. Two of River's last four goals for the day were fired in by the likes of Emma Yezbak and Addie Tisler, as the Pirates continued to show that its reserves are less bench
and just more talent
. The final tally for the Pirates was a display of just that when the Double-R went double-Tisler on an Addie Tisler goal assisted by Alexis Tisler.
Saturday was a day, in fact, that saw the Tisler sisters (Alexis with three goals and Addie with one) outscore the Demons 4-3. Other Pirate standouts in the home playoff win were Kaitlyn Byrne (three goals, two assists, three ground balls, five draw controls), Grace DeWitt (1G, 2 GB, two caused turnovers), Olivia Konopka (2G, 1A), Annika Mocho (5 GB, 3 CT), Gabrielle Mocho (1G, 1A), and Mackenzie Russell (3G, 1A, 6 DC). Goalkeeper Acadia Hover, relieved in the second half, faced two shots, turning both aside.
Lucy Rocco scored two goals for the visitors. For the game, Rocky River held Westlake (15-5) to a 7-of-15 (46.7%) mark on clearing attempts. The Pirates outshot the Demons 41-6 and were credited as a plus-12 (7, 19) in turnovers. River has committed just 13 turnovers across two playoff games.
For the top seed in the DII Region 5 brackets, those playoffs will continue Tuesday at 6 p.m. with a home game against No. 4 Revere. The Pirates (15-3) and Minutemen (12-7-1) have perhaps been on a collision course since the 2023 season opener (March 18) when they tussled in a one-goal game (8-7 RR win) at Rocky River Stadium.
No. 2 Bay will host No. 7 Cuyahoga Valley in the other Region 5 semifinal that same evening.
by Skip Snow