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Raiders top River in cardiac 'keepers' duel
Carter Smith
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (April 22, 2023) -- The Pirates were felled in a hard-fought Saturday matinee against Shaker Heights, as the Red Raiders landed the final punch in a 6-5 back-and-forth tussle at Rocky River Stadium.

A goal by Max Kelly at the 3:23-mark of the fourth quarter lifted the Raiders to the victory. Kelly's goal was the final tie-breaker in what remarkably figures as River's second straight game with 11 ties and lead changes. Both games -- Saturday and Thursday's overtime setback at Toledo St. Francis -- were 6-5 contests. The Pirates (7-4) have now lost three games this season by a score of 6-5. The Sons of Blackbeard were defeated in all three of their games this week.

By all rights, Saturday's score against Shaker should have been just about anything but 6-5. Both goalkeepers -- Ben Sosin for the visiting Raiders and Carter Smith for the Pirates -- stood on their heads in a contest that seemed destined toward about 20 total goals. Maybe more. Sosin made 13 saves for Shaker; Smith carded eight stops for River. And both made more than a few grade-A saves throughout.

Neither side had more than a one-goal margin all afternoon. The battle was leapfrog by dodge, dish, denial, and, once in a while, dented twine. The visitors outscored the Pirates 2-1 in the first period. The Double-R outscored the Red Raiders 2-1 in the third. The second quarter was an even 1-1 exchange. And so had been the fourth -- with a Drew English goal at 10:49 answered by Wes Bennett at 4:10 -- until Kelly's tie-breaker.

Bennett's marker -- his 25th of the season -- capped off a snazzy bit of tic-tac-toe, with Smith finding Cohen Blair on an outlet and then Blair threading a pass to Tyler Fortune, who found Bennett in stride. It was a quick strike goal, but one that was countered expediently by the Raiders some 47 seconds later.

Each goalie made three stops in the fourth. Kelly's game-winner came on Shaker's 22nd shot (and 14th shot on goal) in the match. Rocky River would have the tilt in its favor in those -- and just about every other statistical area of the first meeting between RRHS and SHHS since 2008. The Pirates logged 36 shots, landing 18 on frame. They won 8-of-14 (57.1%) faceoffs and 23-of-40 (57.5%) ground balls while winning the turnover battle 9 to 15. River was 7-of-10 on clears while holding Shaker to an 8-of-15 (53.3%) mark.

Credit Sosin with grinding that all-around statistical edge down to nothing with his play between the pipes. And credit both sides for a well-played grinder of a lacrosse game on the third Saturday in April.


Earning Saturday points for Rocky River were Rowan McDougal (two goals, assist), Ryan Hildebrand (1G, 1A), Matthew Malloy (1G, 1A), Wes Bennett (1G), and Tyler Fortune (1A). Bennett's goal kept a streak alive: he has scored a point in every game this season. ... Andrew Lang went 7-4 on 11 faceoffs, while carding four ground balls. Parker Hartup registered five scoops and two spills.

RESOLUTE RALLY: Carter Smith was touched up for 17 goals against three saves in River's 17-9 loss to Avon Tuesday. Over Thursday's and Saturday's games, the senior captain guarded the Pirate twine to the tune of 18 saves against 12 goals (.600 save percentage). For the season, Smith has stopped 57-of-106 shots, logging a robust .538 mark.

PIRATE GREYBEARDS: Rocky River's 2012 and 2013 Boys Lacrosse teams were honored at halftime. Coach Stave Anderson and members of those Buckeye State finalist squads were on hand for an on-field salute. While holding opponents under 5.5 goals per game, the Pirates went a combined 30-7 with six playoff wins in 2012-13.

by Skip Snow

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