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Dandy dozen deals 'W' on Senior Night
RR Boys' Lacrosse
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- The Rocky River senior class is a dozen strong, and those seniors came to the fore in a hard-fought 7-5 victory over Walsh Jesuit on Thursday.

Appropriately enough, the win in the chilled, rainy, non-conference battle against a top-notch Warriors squad came on Senior Night for the Double-R Boys' Lacrosse program. Pirate greybeards combined to net five of the seven goals, make eight saves, and come away with 20 ground balls and five caused turnovers.

The Pirates (9-3) fell behind when Walsh's Simon Orzell opened the game's scoring seven seconds in. Orzell's netfinder would be the only tally on the Rocky River Stadium scoreboard until the 6:04-mark of the first when senior midfielder Nathan Robertson netted his 10th goal of the season. Junior middie Ryan Hildebrand followed Robertson into the net at 2:57 to lift the Pirates to a 2-1 advantage.

The second quarter opened with a scrambling Charlie Hudson goal which included a shot, ground ball, and put-back which found the back of the net at the 10:48-mark. The hustle-and-hand-eye goal marked the first of the spring for the senior defenseman and it lifted River's lead to 3-1. Hudson would finish the night with three ground balls and as many spills to add to his twine-finder.

Hildebrand's second of the night pushed the advantage for the home side to three (4-1). That goal came at 7:15 of the second. It was answered by Orzell's second of the evening -- at 3:23 -- and the Pirates went into halftime leading, 4-2.

The third stanza was a slowed-down exercise in patience for both offenses. In a period that featured just five combined shots on frame, Rocky River managed a lone goal. Senior midfielder Will Bennett scored the goal -- his 25th on the season and the 61st of his career -- with under a minute remaining in the third. Bennett's goal was assisted by Robertson, and it was a man-up score breaking a string of 21 unsuccessful extra-man opportunities extending back six games (to April 10).

Rocky River's 5-2 lead took a hit early in the fourth when the Warriors landed two extra-man goals of their own, on Orzell's third of the contest (at 10:45) and on a Cooper Kirda goal (assisted by Orzell at 9:40).

With their backs against the wall, the Pirates then got a jolt of senior leadership which pulsed through the sideline and the hardy contingent of senior parents and River fans in the stands. The electric shock of momentum came from a Hayden Weaver goal at 7:07. Less than 90 seconds later, that wave of momentum led to the Pirates spilling a Walsh clearing attempt and Wes Bennett finding Robertson who finished on the bang-bang play to ease the home lead back to three (7-4).

A game Warriors team did have an answer but it was an answer two goals too few. Walsh got a Kirda tally at 5:21. But with the Pirates playing steady defense -- and getting standout play from Hudson and fellow seniors Matthew George and Matthew McDonald in that department -- the remaining five minutes-and-20 seconds amounted to just two more shot attempts for the Warriors. Both were off the mark.

For the game, Rocky River outshot Walsh, 34-22 (16-13 in shots on goal). Senior netminder Reece Rochester logged eight saves in helping the Pirates to file a single-digit goals-allowed figure for an 11th straight game. WJHS went 2-of-4 in man-up chances; River went 1-of-4.

The Pirates were a plus-8 in turnovers (eight miscues to the Warriors' 16), and they went a perfect 13-of-13 on clears. Despite Walsh winning the lion's share of 11 faceoffs, Rocky River was also a plus in the ground-ball department. With Weaver (six) and Robertson (four) leading the way, the Pirates filed a 26-17 advantage in ground balls.

And the above is just book-keeping, of course. Plenty of talent, heart, hustle, and toughness was also on display. And that could only accurately be divvied up 12 ways among Danny Asmar, Will Bennett, Matthew George, Charlie Hudson, John Matis, Aidan McDonald, Matthew McDonald, Joey Riedl, Nathan Robertson, Reece Rochester, Tamer Salama, and Hayden Weaver.

Swashbuckling Buccaneer seniors all.


Senior goalkeeper Reece Rochester entered Thursday's tilt with a fine .545 save percentage on the season. But Rochester's pellet thievery has been especially rampant of late. Over Rocky River's last five games, he has registered a .709 mark (61-of-86).

SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREAK: Will Bennett and Nathan Robertson kept point streaks alive with their respective Thursday exploits. Bennett has tallied a point in all 12 games this season and has registered a total of 29 points (25 goals, four assists). Robertson has now scored a point in nine straight. On the season, he has scored 22 points (11, 11).

by Skip Snow

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