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Pirates prevail in overtime thriller in Toledo
Robby Lang
TOLEDO, Ohio -- After scuffling through two losses, the Rocky River Pirates went to Toledo and clocked a monster 6-5 overtime win over Toledo St. Francis Saturday.

An overtime goal by sophomore Rowan McDougal was the exclamation point capping off a late-game comeback by the Pirates, who had been outscored 27-8 over their first two games. McDougal's goal -- on a remarkable defensive play near the St. Francis cage -- came after Rocky River had successfully killed off a penalty.

The Maroon & White trailed 3-1 at halftime of a defensive struggle at LaValley Field. The Pirates and Knights combined to produce a total of eight shots on frame over the first 24 minutes of play. All three St. Francis goals in the half were scored over a two-minute stretch in the second quarter.

The River defense clamped down even harder in a third stanza that saw goals by Ryan Hildebrand (at the 10-minute mark) and Robby Lang (at 6:01) bring the Pirates level with their hosts. The Pirates (1-2) shut out the Knights 2-0 in the third.

St. Francis (1-3) pulled ahead with early fourth-quarter goals by Jack Stough and Charlie Werner. Stough's netfinder at 10:56 of the fourth marked his third goal on what was a chilled, snow-filled afternoon in Northwest Ohio. In between those goals, Rocky River survived a man-down situation -- a two-minute spell -- chiefly by getting a 10-bell save by junior goalkeeper Carter Smith, who would finish the game with four saves.

At 3:50 of the fourth, junior midfielder Mack Massad connected on a 12-yard runner across his body. The Massad goal brought River to within one (5-4). Two minutes later, Massad broke through for another goal, a game-tying effort on an artful dodge from some 20 yards out. The junior middie broke right, then spun left, opening a parcel of real estate in the high slot. He sped toward the goal and then, left-handed, propelled a shoulder-launched, 7-yard missile into the twine behind the Knights' goalkeeper.

Massad's game-tying score came at the 1:46 mark; 106 seconds later the game went into sudden-death overtime.

The Knights looked to have the upper hand when Massad was booked for a crosscheck a minute-and-42 seconds into the extra session. But River got a titanic takeaway from Lang, who speared a man-up pass intended for the left flank. The caused turnover was the senior defenseman's sixth of the game, but despite the fact it botched a St. Francis extra-man situation, it may not have even been the biggest overtime spill by a Lang.

After a River timeout and a successful possession nixing the man-down situation, the Pirates committed a turnover deep in Knights' territory. That's when sophomore attackman Andrew Lang -- younger brother of Robby -- ball-hawked his way to a spill out of the 'keeper's cross some 5 yards in front of the St. Francis cage. McDougal swooped in, grabbed the loose change, and flipped the game-winning shot into an undefended goal.

The River sideline erupted into celebration. Back slaps, high fives, and smiles all around. And then, a big, wonderful, improbable 'W' to load on the bus and tote back to Rocky River. The first earned by new head coach Griffin Vehar.

In a fashion Pirates would regard as swashbuckling.


Rocky River tallied six goals on 19 shots; 12 of those were on frame. St. Francis scored its five goals on 33 shots (nine on goal). Both teams were 0-for-3 in extra-man situations. ... The Pirates committed 21 turnovers to the Knights' 11. St. Francis. Rocky River went 12-of-22 on the clear; St. Francis went 14-of-20.  

OF SCOOP AND SPILL: Robby Lang finished with six ground balls and six caused turnovers. Through three games, Lang has registered nine scoops and eight spills.

DOUBLE-R R&R: Ryan Hildebrand (four goals total) and Rowan McDougal (four) have both scored in all three games this season.

Rocky River is scheduled to host a 6 p.m. game against the Mentor Cardinals Tuesday.

by Skip Snow

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