Photos and video by Larry Bennet
The Rocky River girls varsity soccer team has started the 2013 campaign with purpose, as the Pirates won their home opener over the Beaumont Blue Streaks Saturday night, 8-1.
“We are returning 10 out of 11 starters (from 2012), so we have a lot of girls with a lot of experience,” Rocky River head coach Patrick Hopkins said. “I’m really happy with the outcome tonight.
“You don’t know what to expect from the first game, so it’s really good to come out here and get the win,” Hopkins said. “A lot of girls were able to score tonight. Some girls who will not get a lot of playing time were able to get goals tonight, and I’m happy for them.”
Senior captain Grace Bennett started the Pirates’ scoring spree when she tapped in a rebound off of Beaumont goalkeeper Megan Nemecek with 17:49 left in the first half. The rebound came off a strong shot from Pirates senior Abby Elinsky, who scored the next three Pirates goals to make the score 4-0 going into the half.
“It was nice to see (Bennett and Elinsky) – in the first game – working off of each other, and creating opportunities together,” Hopkins noted. “Their communication is great, so they understood that one of them would drop off a little when needed. It was nice.”
Elinsky’s first goal came from five yards out, and she put a penalty kick in the back of the net just three minutes later for her second score. She completed the hat trick when she headed in a Jillian Krebs corner kick.
“This was our first game, so we knew we had to come out here and set the tone for the rest of the season,” Elinsky said.
The Pirates continued to score at will in the second half, starting with junior Sydney Hamker’s goal off of an Elinsky throw in. Bennett scored her second goal with 23:25 left in the game, and sophomore Sophia Braun and junior Katie Bobbitt each added a goal late in the game.
Beaumont only managed four shots on goal for the entire game, opposed to 19 from the Pirates, with Rocky River starting goalkeeper Sara Connelly making one save.
“I barely had to do anything,” Connelly said. “It was a great start to our season.
“We are definitely jelled already. We are jelled as a team because we have one new (starter), and we’ve already played together for an entire season. We controlled (Beaumont) and they really had no scoring chances,” she said.
The Blue Streaks’ scoring attempts in the first half came off of two fast breaks, which were the Pirates’ only defensive breakdowns until late in the game.
“I told them at halftime, ‘Girls, they only had two opportunities,’” Hopkins said. “If they do that next week against Toledo St. Ursula, they will bury them in the back of the net. Those are the only mental breakdowns that we had.
“Even when we had a mental breakdown from one or two individuals, it was the third or fourth girl who recovered beautifully to cover up the play. It was great to see,” he added.
The Beaumont goal was scored by Jessica Fox with seven minutes left in the game. That came against the Pirates’ backup goalkeeper, Jessie Lekstutis, who also made one save.
Connelly expected more offensive punch from Beaumont.
“We heard about (Fox), that she was real speedy. But we really controlled them and they really had no chances,” she said.
The junior varsity teams battled to a 0-0 draw.
The Pirates will host Brecksville-Broadview Heights on Wednesday, with the junior varsity game starting at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity matchup at 7 p.m.