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Early lead washed away as River falls to Avon
Mack Massad
AVON, Ohio -- Rocky River opened Northern Ohio Lacrosse League with a 12-5 setback against the Avon Eagles. The Pirates were held scoreless over the final three periods of a rainy contest riddled with turnovers.

The defending NOLL champs opened a 4-1 lead by the 4:54-mark of the first quarter. Two goals by Mack Massad and one each by Ryan Hildebrand and Rowan McDougal underpinned the early lead. But the Pirates would be outscored 11-1 the rest of the way.

Avon (2-0, 1-0 NOLL) cut into its deficit with two late-first-quarter goals and went into the second trailing 5-3. That second stanza was all-Eagles, beak-to-tail. The home side leveraged 11 River turnovers into a commanding 12-1 edge in shots taken. But the Eagles only scored two goals on those 12 shots. The game went into halftime tied 5-5.

At 10:59 of the third, Michael Perusek scored on an Andrew Lewis feed, and the Eagles vaulted ahead by one (6-5). Perusek was Avon's sixth player to net a goal in the contest (the Eagles would finish with eight different scorers). With a goal and three assists, Lewis would be in on four goals on the night.

Avon dominated the second half, outscoring Rocky River 7-0. For the game, the Eagles had as many shots on frame as the Pirates had shots (21). Avon landed 21-of-34 shots; River went 12-of-21.

The Pirates (0-2, 0-1) were a minus-15 in the turnover exchange, committing 30 miscues to Avon's 15. River went 8-of-18 clearing its defensive zone, while Avon went 16-of-24. Both teams went 1-for-4 in man-up play.

Individually, the Pirates were led by Massad (two goals, assist, 9-3 on 12 face-offs), McDougal (two goals), and Robby Lang (two ground balls, two caused turnovers). Goalkeeper Carter Smith filed nine saves and four ground balls. In a deep scoring effort, the Eagles were paced by Dane Nelson (three goals, two assists) and Marcus Wright (two goals, two assists).

Avon, which went 14-5 last season, has now outscored foes 29-6 through two games in 2022. Its win Tuesday marked its first against Rocky River in six all-time meetings.

The loss marked River's first in NOLL play: the Pirates went 9-0 in capturing the league flag last spring. The Maroon & White's next game this spring will be Saturday at Toledo St. Francis. The River Raiders will arrive at their third game with an 0-2 mark for the first time since 2015.

by Skip Snow

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