The Rocky River Pirates girls soccer season came to an end Oct. 29 at Brunswick High School.
After accomplishing many of its season goals including winning 10 games, claiming the Great Lakes Conference championship and winning a District title, River fell to Mansfield Madison 3-0 in its Division II, Region 6 semifinal.
As one of the voters for the Greater Cleveland girls soccer rankings, Rocky River coach Patrick Hopkins said he has followed Mansfield Madison all season and knew the fight ahead of his team.
“They’ve got some great talent,” Hopkins said. “Taylor (Huff) is great on the ball, she’s great off the ball and she’s got some girls that really support her. They work really well together.”
Despite the lopsided scoreline, the Pirates (13-6-1) got early pressure against the Rams (16-1-4), the number two team in the State. Multiple times in the first 10 minutes, River had opportunities in or near Mansfield Madison’s box, garnering a shot on goal from sophomore Taylor Byall and a shot from senior Anna Sobol.
“We did have some nice momentum, we did create opportunities and we didn’t finish them,” Hopkins said. “It’s amazing; we get the opportunity to score and (we) miss, they get the opportunity and they put it in. I didn’t think we were ever really out of this game.”
The Rams weren’t without chances of their own. Their first good look ended after a one-on-one chance against Pirate keeper Sabrina Rick where the ball rolled out the backline for a goal kick. The second time that happened, the Rams capitalized.
In the 19th minute, off an assist from Kalie Blaising, Phyllis Stanfield got a final touch on the ball to score before colliding with Rick. Ten minutes later, Blaising scored a goal of her own on a rocket shot to put the Rams up 2-0.
“Their second goal was beautiful,” Hopkins said. “She hit it from deep and it was a tough position for her. Both goals were legit goals. It wasn’t until the third goal came in that I had to make adjustments.”
Mansfield Madison had another four shots (three on goal) in the second half, bringing its game total to 10 shots (six on goal). Against that attack, the Pirates held strong for the first 20 minutes of the second half before Huff tacked on the Rams’ third and final goal in the 63rd minute.
Rocky River finished the game with six shots (three on goal) and both Rick and Mansfield Madison keeper Morgan Rachel finished with three saves.
Hopkins reflected on this season and credited the senior leadership for making this deep tournament run. He also felt that this year’s team is different from season’s past.
“It’s almost as if my first couple years in the program to where I’m at now, (the team) want(s) more,” Hopkins said. “They’re never going to settle for where they’re at. We have the hardware to show there’s a lot more out there, there’s a lot more to strive for. They’re not ready to be done.”
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