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Bucs topple Rockets, headed for region semifinal
RR Boys' Lacrosse
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- In similar fashion to an April 10 regular-season game at the same venue, the Pirates registered big second-half performances and did so all over the property at a fan-energized Rocky River Stadium as they defeated Bay, 9-4, on Thursday. Meeting No. 2 this season between the west-side rivals had different stakes than did that 11-5 River win in April: with Thursday's victory, Rocky River moves on in the Region 5 brackets of the 2021 D-II Ohio Boys' Lacrosse Tournament.

Senior midfielder Will Bennett logged a five-point night, senior goalkeeper Reece Rochester clocked eight saves, and Rocky River forced a slew of transition turnovers in what marked the program's 17th win over Bay in a 17-game all-time series.

An early 3-1 Pirate lead was answered by a game Rockets squad which scored three late second-period goals to send the two sides into halftime tied, 4-4. Bay's third goal in that charge -- a fast-break Kevin Nasman bullet off a tremendous upfield pass by Ethan Veselic -- came as time expired in the second quarter. It would be the last time all night the Rockets found twine.

A resolved Raider squad clamped down on the ride (River would hold Bay to an 11-of-19 clearing mark for the game), and the Pirates pellet-possession and passing skills were on full display in a 4-0 third period led by Bennett at the offensive end. Pirate attackmen and midfielders combined to log six caused turnovers in the game. D-poles Robby Lang (2 CT) and Charlie Hudson (3 CT, 4 ground balls) combined to add five more, and their play was bolstered by the dogged 1-on-1 play of Matthew McDonald, Matthew George, and Kai Delventhal.

At the offensive end, Rocky River's third quarter surge amounted to two Will Bennett goals, one Nathan Robertson tally, and a monster Robby Lang effort. The Lang goal -- the junior defenseman's second of the season came on a Bennett pass -- was buried from distance and was an emotional lift for the Pirates. The goal -- at 7:25 of the third -- was the first of the second half, and it broke the 4-4 tie. River's final goal of the night was Hayden Weaver's second of the game; it came early in the fourth.

The Rocky River defense allowed just 10 shots in the second half. Six of those were on frame, and all six were stymied by Reece Rochester who upped his season save percentage to .585 with his 8-of-12 performance overall. For the game, River outshot Bay, 36-21. The Pirates put 16 shots on goal to the Rockets' 12.

The victory earns Region 5's top-seeded Pirates another home game in the playoffs. Rocky River will host the Warriors of Walsh Jesuit High School on Monday (Rocky River Stadium, 6 p.m.).


Bay was aggressive in winning the lion's share of early-game ground balls, but the Pirates rallied to win 30-of-57 (52.6%) for the night. Hudson, Will Bennett, and Wes Bennett had four ground balls each; Hayden Weaver scooped up five. Mack Massad won 9-of-16 faceoffs (56.3%) and finished with four ground balls and a caused turnover. ... The Detroit Road Buccaneers logged 12 caused turnovers as a team. With a show of depth and an ability to create spills on both sides of the midfield stripe, those dozen turnovers were forced by eight different Pirates. For the game, Rocky River was a plus-10 (6 to 16) in the turnover exchange.

RIVER NOLLS BEST: The All-Northern Ohio Lacrosse League Team was announced on Wednesday. Six Pirates -- Will Bennett, Charlie Hudson, Robby Lang, Nate Robertson, Hayden Weaver, and Ryan Hildebrand -- were included on the 28-man team. Hudson was named NOLL Player of the Year, and head coach Bobby Perez was named Coach of the Year. Mack Massad and Reece Rochester were tabbed as honorable mentions.

PARTING SHOTS: Charlie Hudson has a shot at posting a 50-50 season in ground balls and caused turnovers. Hudson heads into Monday's game with 49 ground balls and 48 caused turnovers. He's registered 108 scoops and 89 spills over his career. ... With his 8-of-12 performance Thursday, Reece Rochester has now stopped 107 of the last 162 shots (66.0%) he's faced. ... River has been on the plus side of the turnover ledger in eight straight games. ... Hayden Weaver's first goal Thursday marked the 60th of his career. ... Will Bennett needs three points to reach 100 for his career. Bennett has clocked 72 goals and 25 assists.

by Skip Snow

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