ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – Rocky River closed out its regular season with an impressive 9-4 victory over Westlake on Friday night.
The Pirates (11-4) benefited from big performances up and down the field and key contributions from the seven-member 2019 graduating class on what marked Senior Night for the program. Outshooting the Demons, 36-23, for the game, the Maroon & White outscored the visitors, 5-2, in the opening half and 4-2 over the closing 24 minutes. It was a sophomore – attackman Hayden Weaver – doing the most damage on Senior Night. Weaver potted four goals in the contest at a chilly-but-festive Rocky River Stadium.
Rocky River sticks piled up 13 caused turnovers in the west-side neighborhood tussle, marking the team’s most spills in a single game since March 19 (14 vs. Revere). Senior goalkeeper Jack Rossi more-than-adequately quashed any Demon offense that survived the gauntlet of hounding Pirate crosses. The son of Greg and Leslie Rossi made 11 saves in the game. And several of those were under duress in a game that saw Rocky River flagged for seven penalties. Westlake went 2-for-7 on its man-up opportunities.
Many of River’s forced turnovers were in transition play across the middle of the field or in the Pirate defensive zone before the Demons could get set on a possession. Active, alert play by Nate Curry, Michael Larson, Ben Mahoney, Colton Sullivan and Luke Witzigreuter helped the Sons of Blackbeard to their 13th ground ball advantage (36-28) in 15 games. The son of Matthew Curry logged a ground ball and two caused turnovers. The son of Col. Chris Larson registered three scoops and a pair of spills. The son of Pat and Katie Mahoney was solid on faceoffs and the midfield scrums thereafter. The son of Steve and Annette Sullivan logged a ground ball and was key in sprinting River to a couple clears. The son of Dan and Amy Witzigreuter laid out a few jarring hits while collecting two ground balls and forcing one turnover.
Rocky River’s transition defense would hold Westlake to just six clears in 13 attempts.
The Pirate attack got off to a slow start at the outset of the game, misfiring on a half-dozen shots either off cage or into the Westlake ‘keeper’s midsection. River landed its first of the game when Hayden Weaver took a pass from Logan Fortune, dodged his way to freedom and then loosed a quick-wristed twine-finder. Call Fortune’s set-up a “hockey assist,” as a pass preceding the score but not rising to the level of a play that set up the shot itself. But he and Weaver would connect three more times throughout the game (on what were lacrosse assists). The first of those — on an 11-yard, top-shelf whistler by Weaver — came at the 4:46-mark of the first. The Pirates would tote a 2-0 lead into the second period.
The second was a 2-for-3 exchange in favor of the home side. Jack Rossi protected that one-goal advantage with four stops in the quarter. Rocky River’s trio of goals were netted by Will St. Pierre (from Will Bennett), Will Bennett (from Andrew Snow) and Snow (from St. Pierre). Snow’s goal was on a missile threaded to the top-left 90 from distance. The junior midfielder finished with a goal and two helpers while going 8-1 on nine faceoffs.
River took the third quarter, two goals (St. Pierre and Bennett) to one. They would battle through three penalties to card the same advantage in the fourth frame. Weaver scored both River goals in the fourth in closing out his four-goal night. He has now scored a goal in eight straight games and has moved into the team scoring lead, with 29 goals on the season.
Will St. Pierre finished with two goals and an assist. St. Pierre’s second goal – a man-up job on a feed from Snow – marked the 100th point of his career. The standout junior now has 53 goals and 47 assists in his career.
With the Pirates, where there’s a Will there’s … another. Will Bennett also tallied two goals and an assist. Logan Fortune had three assists in playing the straight man in the Fortune-and-Weaver act. Blade Cintron had a five-ground ball game. Charlie Hudson registered four ground balls and two caused turnovers. Cintron, Hudson and Larson rode roughshod over any Demon players nearing the slot in possession of the ball.
With Friday’s win, the class of ’19 now owns a four-year record of 50-25 (.667).
“I’m so proud of these seniors,” said Head Coach Bobby Perez. “They’ve done so much for our program. This was a great night, and now its time for the second season.”
CANNON FIRE …
ONE LAST START: Senior attackman Nolan Weaver wouldn’t add to his 93-point career total, but the son of Jason and Kimber Weaver started Friday’s Senior Night contest. The injured Pirate logged about 15 seconds of action in his familiar No. 8 white home threads. The middle brother of three in the program (Austin and Hayden) had a remarkable athletic career at RRHS, starring for both River Lacrosse and Hockey. Weaver scored nearly 200 combined points in those two sports: for River Lacrosse, he tallied 67 goals and 27 assists.
CAPITAL GAINS: Rocky River is now bracket-bound. The Pirates’ next game – an early-round Northwest Region game in the Ohio DII Tournament — will be Monday at 6 p.m. against the winner of a Saturday Avon Lake-vs.-Ottawa Hills tilt. RRHS students will be admitted free to all Boys’ and Girls’ Lacrosse home tournament games, courtesy Legacy Capital Partners. The River girls are slated to begin their bracket march on Wednesday (7 p.m. vs. Sylvania Southview, Rocky River Stadium).
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