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Bulldogs rain supreme in Monday night NOLL test
RR Boys' Lacrosse
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- In a game that featured final-minute scores in each of four quarters, the final frame offered up two. Those final twine-finders were split -- one a side -- between Rocky River and Olmsted Falls. They took place over a frantic final 35 seconds that saw the Pirates tie the game at 8-8, the Bulldogs retake the lead with 15 seconds remaining, and the Double-R have one more crack at a desperation shot in the waning seconds. It all ended with the visiting Bulldogs prevailing 9-8 on a rain-soaked Monday evening at Rocky River Stadium.

Olmsted Falls (6-1, 4-1 Northern Ohio Lacrosse League) grabbed an early lead and had all the momentum in the first half. Rocky River (4-4, 3-2) held the Bulldogs scoreless for the first 21 minutes-and-53 seconds of the second half, as the Pirates chipped away at a 7-2 halftime deficit. The final 35 ticks amounted to a wild exchange, and in the end nine goals were ledgered against eight in a hard-fought NOLL tussle in a twilight downpour.

The Bulldogs scored the first three goals of the night, with Michael Candow, Spencer Lethbridge, and Gavin Moore lifting them to the commanding lead. River scored a man-up goal (Mack Massad from Ryan Hildebrand) with 33 seconds left in the first to get the Pirates within two. But Olmsted Falls countered quickly, netting its fourth goal just eight seconds later. It would not be the first time the Bulldogs quickly countered a Pirate score with one of their own.

The second quarter was a 1-for-3 exchange, with a Tyler Fortune tally being the short end of the trade. With the visitors outshooting the Pirates 17-12, Olmsted Falls took a 7-2 lead into the half.

In the second half, the heavy rains came and, with them, some momentum for the home side. That momentum came at one end -- with period bookend goals by Hildebrand at 11:20 and Rowan McDougal as time expired -- and at the other, with four saves by River goalkeeper Carter Smith. Both 'keepers would make multiple grade-A stops in the game: Carter finished with seven saves; his opposite number Caden Vinci registered six.

McDougal's buzzer-beater ending the third came off a nifty save by Smith and then a clear and long cross-field pass from Robby Lang.

McDougal scored his second of the night to pull Rocky River within two (7-5) at the 10:14-mark of the fourth. Moore answered with his third of the game four minutes later to lift the Olmsted lead back to three (8-5).

McDougal's fourth-frame goal -- on a Wes Bennett assist -- was an extra-man tally. After going just 2-for-their-previous-18 in man-up chances, the Pirates went 2-for-2 in such situations Monday.

The Double-R then doubled up on scores and got within one (8-7) on goals by Hildebrand at 4:27 and Bennett at 3:06. Helping fuel the rally was Mack Massad, who was churning out faceoff wins at a near-80% clip on the night. Massad would go 14-4 for the game; he went 7-1 in the second half.

And it would be Massad, planting a runner at the 33-second mark, tying the game for the Sons of Blackbeard. A masterful last-minute goal ... downgraded to a dramatic stepping stone 18 seconds later, when Michael Candow netted his third goal of the night.

Candow's goal resolved the only tie of the match. It ended the soggy affair just a few ticks short of what would have been Rocky River fourth overtime game of the season. As it is, the Pirates have played in plenty of close games: they are now 4-1 in games decided by two goals-or-less.


Olmsted Falls scored nine goals on 26 shots; 16 of those were on frame. River netted eight goals on 27 shots (14). ... The Pirates were whistled for four minutes of penalties, but they held the Bulldogs to an 0-for-5 mark with the extra man. ... Rocky River was a minus-2 in turnovers (12, 10) and a plus-9 in ground balls (27-19). Both teams made it through the evening with just three failed clears (OF 15-of-18, RR 11-of-14).

Everyone named either "Mac" or Delventhal had a good night in collecting ground balls and caused turnovers. Mack Massad logged 10 ground balls, while Mac Scott, Trent Delventhal, and Kai Delventhal had three each. Jack McBride and Trent Delventhal each registered two spills.

ON DECK: Rocky River will travel to Avon Lake Tuesday night. The NOLL contest between the Pirates and Shoremen is ticketed for a 7:30 start.

by Skip Snow

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