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Pirate depth charge sinks Wooster
Wes Bennett
Rocky River, Ohio -- The Pirates got swashbuckling, all-hands-on-deck plays turned in up and down their lineup, as Rocky River prevailed 11-7 over the visiting Wooster Generals Friday.

The Double-R won for the third time in its last four games and did so in a time of the year when nothing else will do. Friday's contest at Rocky River Stadium was a DII Region 5 battle in the OHSAA Boys Lacrosse Tournament. Thanks to a dominant performance over the middle quarters of Friday's game, the sixth-seeded Pirates are still alive in those brackets and will play at No. 5 Ottawa Hills Monday.

Rocky River (8-10) broke free of a first-quarter 3-2 deficit by outscoring Wooster 4-0 in the second stanza. The Pirates extended a 6-3 halftime edge to 9-5 by the end of the third. Over the combined 24 minutes of those second and third periods, River had: a monster three-saves-in-four-seconds scramble turned in by goalkeeper Carter Smith ... three goals scored by Will Bennett and three scored by Mack Massad ... and one extra-man goal against one Wooster opportunity killed off by the Pirate defense. The net result was a 7-2 edge on the scoreboard over those two quarters.

With their early deficit turned into a four-goal cushion, the Maroon & White played out the final quarter by splitting four goals evenly with their visitors, and River finished off the 11-7 triumph.

For the game, the Pirates outshot the Generals 27-22. Rocky River put 19 shots on frame to Wooster's 14. Smith stopped 7-of-14 shots for the game.

In turning aside a General squad that had gone 6-2 across its previous eight games, River's goalkeeping and defense were often directly tied to plays that made it onto the scoreboard in the Pirates' favor. A game-tying (3-3), early-second goal scored by Bennett was set up by a tremendous spill-and-scoop combo turned in by Jack McBride and Robby Lang. Mere seconds later, the Pirates had worked the pellet downfield to Massad, then to Tyler Fortune, who found Bennett for the finish. It was an artful fast-break transition play for a team that has perhaps not often enough looked for such lanes during the season.

Another big transition goal was set up by a big save by Smith at the 2:45-mark of the third. Seventeen seconds later Lang rifled the vulcanized rubber past a helpless Wooster 'keeper and into the cage for the eighth goal of his career.

That late-third twine-finder by Lang put the Pirates up 9-5. The Generals (8-9) would get as close as two (9-7) by the 6:33-mark of the fourth, but late River goals by Ryan Hildebrand and Massad shut the door on Wooster.

... and opened a door onto a bus for a ride to another game in this Region 5 tournament.


Rocky River was tagged with a season-low eight turnovers in the game. After not being a plus in turnover margin the first 16 games of the season, the Pirates have now been a plus in back-to-back games (River was a plus-8, 8-to-16, on Friday). ... The Pirates were 10-of-12 on clears while holding the Generals to a 6-of-13 mark. Ground balls were a 21-for-20 exchange with the Generals coming out in front. ... River had nine caused turnovers for the game; the Pirates have now recorded 19 spills over their two playoff games. ... Massad finished with five goals and now has 25 scores on the season. Bennett scored his 16th, 17th, and 18th goals of the season. ... Freshman Liam Harwood tallied three goals and an assist for Wooster. ... Massad went 9-8 on faceoffs and had two caused turnovers. Hildebrand registered two goals, two scoops, and two spills. Trent Delventhal filed five ground balls and now has 12 over River's last two games. Lang netted three ground balls.

50 FOR 16: Ryan Hildebrand's goal at 4:21 of the first quarter marked the 50th of his career. Hildebrand's 27 goals this season are tops on the squad. He has netted nine goals over the Pirates' last three games.

DOUBLE-R DOUBLE DIGITS: After landing just one double-digit goal total in its first 15 games, Rocky River has ledgered double-digit totals in three straight games. ... The man-up offense has come alive during that stretch. River's 6-on-5 game went 1-for-3 Friday and is 6-for-its-last-10.

by Skip Snow

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