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River comeback comes up just short at CVCA
RR Boys Lacrosse
CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (May 11, 2023) -- Rocky River lost a hard-fought battle at Cuyahoga Valley Thursday. On a sunny evening at CVCA, the Pirates' outlook at the end of the first period was anything but. The host Royals had just outscored the Buccaneers 4-0. But River got its offense in gear and got a string of key goalkeeper saves in eventually getting back into the heat of a tussle that ended in a 9-8 Royals win.

With senior Wes Bennett filing a couple key goals -- his 29th and 30th of the season, the Pirates twice got within two over the middle periods. Rocky River (7-9) got within two a third time when junior midfielder Andrew Lang dodged his way free and deposited an 8-yarder into the back of the net at the 10:45-mark of the fourth.

But after Lang's goal, a series of unfortunate penalties put the Pirates first on a knee in front of the field table and then in a hole. CVCA clocked a pair of extra-man goals to extend its lead from 7-5 to 9-5.

The Sons of Blackbeard showed resolve and battled back. Senior Ryan Hildebrand ripped a shot into the upper-right 90 at 6:45. The goal marked the 100th point of Hildebrand's career and got the Pirates within three (9-6). He netted another goal a couple minutes later -- a man-up 12-yarder fed by Lang -- to get the Double-R within two (9-7).

A couple late CVCA penalties and dogged River defense conspired to hold the Royals without a shot in the final nine minutes of play. Parker Hartup, who finished the game with four caused turnovers, and Mac Scott, who logged three scoops and a spill, were in on key plays denying the Cuyahoga Valley offense in that fourth-frame stand.

The final tally of the game was registered by Rowan McDougal; his goal came at the 2:08-mark. The last 128 seconds were scoreless ones, and the Royals held on for the 9-8 triumph.

For the game, Bennett finished with two goals and one assist. Lang filed the same line. Hildebrand finished with three goals and an assist.

Goalkeeper Carter Smith logged a first-half stretch where he stopped three straight shots destined for nylon. He finished the game with nine saves.

Thursday's contest -- River's regular-season finale --marked the first between RRHS and CVCA since 2018.


Beginning on May 12, 67 teams will start down the road toward the DII Buckeye State championship game, which will be held June 3 at Historic Crew Stadium in Columbus. Rocky River is the No. 7 seed in Region 5 and will host No. 10 Padua Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Ryan Hildebrand logged 33 points (29 goals, four assists) as a sophomore in 2021. He added 35P (28G, 7A) in his junior season and thus far as a senior has 33P (24G, 9A). The talented midfielder will be continuing his lacrosse career at the collegiate level as a member of the Lynchburg (Va.) Hornets.

by Skip Snow

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