AVON, Ohio – A big first half and strong performances up and down the field lifted Rocky River to a 13-5 win at Avon on Friday night.
In what marked a return to action after a nine-day layoff, the Pirates (9-2) were sharp in forcing turnovers, clearing the pellet down field, passing it around the offensive zone and rattling the Eagle cage with a sharp-shooting attack. Especially in a first half that saw the visitors outscore the Eagles, 8-1, while outshooting them, 19-6.
“I thought we played a great first half,” said Head Coach Bobby Perez, whose Pirates bounced back from losing 2-of-their-previous-3 games. “Our defensive was a great example of what we want, and we showed some exceptional unselfish play on offense.”
The River defensive effort amounted to 12 caused turnovers and the Pirates finishing as a plus-8 (15 to 23) in the game’s turnover exchange. Sophomore midfielder Will Bennett, junior attackman Logan Fortune and sophomore attackman Hayden Weaver led the charge on offense – each had four goals in a contest that saw the Maroon & White put 20-of-34 shots on frame.
Rocky River scored first, on a Will Bennett goal, and then later in the quarter broke free from a 1-1 tie with four unanswered goals. The Pirates’ 5-1 first-quarter lead turned into an 8-1 advantage by halftime. Solid stick-to-stick passing and midfield work set up the bulk of the scoring in the opening 24 minutes.
Upfield plays turned in by Luke Witzigreuter, Charlie Hudson, Blade Cintron, Andrew Snow, Owen Bebie, Matthew George and Colton Sullivan turned in downfield success for the Pirates who topped the dozen-goal mark for a fourth time this season.
Perez was especially happy with what he saw from Cintron, who logged four ground balls and twocaused turnovers: “Blade was relentless tonight; he’s so impactful for us.”
Also impactful for River was the play of senior goalkeeper Jack Rossi, especially in a third quarter that saw Avon briefly wrest away some momentum from the Pirates. After a pair of Eagle goals in the third quarter, the guardian of the Pirate twine came up with two monster saves mid-period and then a third on a man-down situation at the 2:30-mark. Rossi would log four saves in the third frame and nine for the game.
The second half amounted to five goals for Rocky River and four for Avon.
River’s stat-card highlights for the game included seven points (four goals, three assists) for Weaver and six (four goals, two assists) for Fortune. Bennett registered four goals, an assist and three caused turnovers. Andrew Snow went 11-5 on 16 faceoffs while adding a goal and two assists. Zack Wagner (four ground balls) and Matthew George (three ground balls, two caused turnovers) paced the midfield crew. Cintron and Charlie Hudson (ground ball, two caused turnovers) led the d-poles.
Hudson, Cintron and Luke Witzigreuter were particularly active on midfield plays that directly contributed to River goals.
Fortune – who has 22 goals and 15 assists on the season – has now scored a goal in six straight games. He shares the team lead in goals with Bennett and Snow. Weaver is one behind, at 21 goals, as part of a scoring attack that is deeper and more varied than those displayed by Pirate teams of recent vintage.
The Pirates went 3-of-4 in man-up situations and are now 9-of-their-last-16 (56.3%) in that department. River has a similar trend in its zone-clearing efficiency. The Pirates went 18-of-21 on clears Friday; they own an 84.1 % (53-of-63) clearing mark over their last four games.
CANNON FIRE …
YOUNG BUCS: River’s JV squad lost, 6-5, on a last-minute goal scored by the Eagles. Matt McDonald led the River offense with two goals. Kai Delventhal garnered six ground balls; Owen Bebie logged five. Zach Pejeau registered nine saves in goal.
RINGING THE BELL: With Friday’s victory at Avon, Rocky River is now 4-0 all-time against the Eagles. Over those four meetings (2016-19), River has outscored Avon, 51-8.
ON DECK: The Pirates’ next game will be on Tuesday (7 p.m. vs. Kenston at Rocky River Stadium). The Maroon & White will be looking to avenge a 10-5 loss to the Bombers a year ago (April 7, 2018). The loss at Kenston was just one of four suffered by a River team that went on to finish the season 18-4.
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