|Photos and video by Larry Bennet
The third time proved to be the charm for the Rocky River girls soccer team.
The Pirates broke through for their first regional championship in three tries Saturday with a 3-2 win over Celina in an OHSAA Division II Region 6 final at Ashland. The unbeaten Pirates moved to 20-0-1 on the season and advanced to Tuesday night's state semifinal contest at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.
Rocky River will face a familiar foe in Hathaway Brown, a double overtime winner over Canfield in the Region 5 championship game. The Blazers come into the game with a record of 15-3-3.
The Pirates found themselves in an unfamiliar position early on against Celina, trailing 1-0 early in the contest. It was the first time the Rocky River squad had been scored upon in five tournament games. It was also the first goal the Pirates had allowed since a 6-1 win over Lakewood on Oct. 2.
River, however, quickly rallied as Sydney Hamker tied it up off a Jillian Krebs corner kick. Goals by sophomore Samantha Zamarripa and senior Grace Bennett proved to be just enough to get past the stubborn Bulldogs.
Rocky River, the No. 1 team in the final OSSCA poll, got four saves from senior goalie Sara Connelly.
Kickoff Tuesday is slated for 7 p.m. A win would put the Pirates in the state championship game Friday at Columbus Crew Stadium against the winner of the Granville-Kettering Alter state semifinal.
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