Soccer supremacy at stake on Pirates’ pitch
By Jim Horvath
While the Bay and Rocky River boys are getting after it at Memorial Stadium, a similar scenario will be playing out down the road on the Pirates’ home pitch.
The Rockets, 5-0 in the West Shore Conference, will take on the 4-0-1 Pirates with first place on the line. The match will also feature two of the best defensive girls soccer squads in the Greater Cleveland area.
Bay, 7-3-3 overall, has allowed just five goals all season. Sophomore keeper Margaret Francati has nine shutouts so far, including a string of seven in a row before a 2-0 loss to Division I Strongsville. River, 8-2-2, has been even better, giving up four goals in 12 outings. All four came in two early matches, those ending up in losses to Magnificat (2-1) and Olmsted Falls (2-0).
“The strength of our team is our defense,” said Bay head coach Jack Griffiths Monday morning. “If we score some goals, we’ll be fine. We’re just having a hard time putting the ball in the net against the tough teams. We’re playing teams like Shaker Heights and Strongsville tough, we just can’t score.
“We’ve always have a hard time with River,” Griffiths said. “It’s an old rivalry, going back to the days in the Southwestern Conference. They have a good team and they’re well-coached. We’ve struggled to beat them at their place in the past.”
Sophomore Alex Brown is the Rockets’ leading scorer with 12 goals this season. River’s scoring is more spread out, led by Kasey Killeen with five goals, with Sarah Molina and Stephanie Davis each with four and Julianna Lydon with three.
“Wednesday is big,” admitted Pirates head coach Patrick Hopkins prior to River’s Monday practice. “I like our situation because I wouldn’t want to have to play us and Avon back-to-back like Bay has to.
“We’re got three great teams in the hunt right now,” Hopkins said. “It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. I think each of us believes that our team can win it.”
River keeper Kim Leitch has been stellar in goal, with nine straight shutouts since the loss to Falls. She has 10 total shutouts for the season, making the River defense even more formidable.
Match time at River is 7 p.m.