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Double-R 'D' paves way for win over Westlake
RR Boys' Lacrosse
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- The River defense continued to shine, as the Pirates defeated the Westlake Demons, 8-6, in a Tuesday night Northern Ohio Lacrosse League game at Rocky River Stadium.

Only two late-fourth-quarter goals got the Demons to their half-dozen, and the Pirates have now held foes to six goals or less in five straight games. Rocky River logged 11 caused turnovers (among the 25 with which the Demons were tagged), and held Westlake to just 14 shots on goal. Senior goalkeeper Reece Rochester did the rest, coming up with eight saves on the 14 shots he faced.

Senior attackman Hayden Weaver got the Pirate offense going at the 5:22-mark of the first period. Weaver's 20th goal of the season was the only marker of the contest until the 7:17-mark of the second stanza when fellow senior Will Bennett found the back of the net. The rest of the half amounted to two more River goals (Wes Bennett, Will Bennett), the second of which was scored with 3.8 seconds remaining in the half, and one by the visitors. The Pirates went into halftime leading, 4-1, having allowed just four shots on frame.

The third quarter was a 2-for-1 exchange, with the Sons of Blackbeard getting tallies from Weaver and senior attackman John Matis. The opening six minutes of the fourth quarter were a 2-for-2 trade (RRHS goals by Ryan Hildebrand and Nathan Robertson). Westlake was able to close out the game with goals at 4:31 and 2:00 to cut the final deficit to two in the 8-6 Pirate victory.

For the game, Rocky River (10-3, 8-0 NOLL) outshot Westlake, 35-29. The Pirates put 21 shots on goal to the Demons' 14. Turnovers amounted to a plus-9 (16-to-25) for the Maroon & White. The River ride forced the Demons into a shaky 9-of-20 performance on clears. Charlie Hudson (five ground balls, three caused turnovers), Robby Lang (4 GB, 2 CT), and Matthew George (2 GB, 2 CT) were key figures in the home side's ability to flip possessions throughout. River's 11 caused turnovers marked the team's most in a single game since April 17 (15 vs. Columbus St. Francis).

With Tuesday's victory, Rocky River clinched at least a share of the inaugural NOLL title. The Pirates (8-0 in league play) head into Saturday's league finale against Brunswick (1-7) with a half-game lead over Olmsted Falls (8-1) which River beat, 8-4, on April 20. No other NOLL squad has won more than five conference games.

The Tuesday home win ran Rocky River's record since March 30 to 8-1.


: Rocky River has yielded just 5.0 goals per game over its last five and has allowed a mere 6.0 GPG for the season. The Pirates' recent defensive exploits have revolved around their transition play and the work of Reece Rochester between the pipes. Over the team's last four games, opponents have been held to a 58.5% mark on clearing attempts. Dating back to April 17, Rochester has stopped 68-of-the-last-101 shots (67.3%) he's faced.

QUOTABLE: "This was a great team win tonight. I'm proud of our effort, and look to what this team can do in big games later this month." -- head coach Bobby Perez.

The River JV topped Westlake, 9-2. Rowan McDougal (three goals), Aidan McDonald (2G), and John Matis (2G) registered multi-goal games for the Pirates. McDougal and McDonald also had assists in the win. Packy Connelly clocked eight ground balls. Johnny Bebie logged four caused turnovers.

by Skip Snow

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