Story and photos by Ryan Kaczmarski
It was an amazing 24 hours for Bay senior Alec White.
On Friday night, he kicked the game-tying field goal to send the Rockets into overtime with the Rocky River Pirates, a game which the Rockets eventually won in double overtime
On Saturday night, he scored the determining goal to send Bay to the OHSAA Division II regional semifinals as the Rockets defeated the Pirates, 2-0, at Memorial Stadium.
"River is a great team, and they've given us trouble all year," White said.
"They were coming at us really hard in those first 10 minutes. To get that first goal and break the game open, it really settled us down and made us play better.
"It's a really good feeling," he said.
White came into the game with a great feeling of confidence. He hit the 42-yard field goal with three seconds left to put the football game into overtime against the rival Pirates.
"Last night was a lot of fun," White explained. "I love playing with all the seniors on the football team. But tonight, we were really put into the position to succeed by the coaching staff."
White's goal came in the eighth minute of the game. That goal broke open the game, which had turned into a back and forth affair.
"Rocky River was peppering the daylights out of us," Bay head coach Bobby Dougherty said. "We just couldn't seem to settle down.
"We knew River was going to come at us with incredible energy. We changed our rotation up a little in the middle which kept the energy up and forced the Pirates to play faster than they wanted to," Dougherty said.
Both of Bay's goals came off rebound shots from free kicks, which the Rockets had 12 overall in the game.
"Thank goodness Alec gets that first goal," Dougherty said. "River was beating us to the ball, but then we settled down.
"It's amazing what a goal does. And from that point, I think they kind of felt like 'Uh-Oh,' and we just relaxed a little bit," he said.
Bay's second goal, which also was from a rebounded free kick, was scored in the 48th minute by Mitchell Matakovich, .
Rocky River's Jacob Wischmeier put a shot on Bay goalkeeper Colin Southerington early in the first half that hit the crossbar and bounced straight down to the turf. But the officials determined it did not cross the goal line, and the game remained scoreless.
"If we were up 1-0, it could be a different game," Rocky River head coach Kevin Zerbey said. "But we've been up 1-0 in the playoffs before, and ended up losing."
The two teams met earlier in the year to a 0-0 draw, but this game was much different than the West Shore Conference opener in August.
"Bay picked up the intensity a little bit more. They came at us with a little bit more than we were ready for," Zerbey said. "They get a goal out of nothing in the first half, and then the second goal was from a broken play in front of our net.
"I told Bobby, 'I wish we lost 8-0,'" he joked. "That's easier to take."
The shutout was the third in a row for Southerington, all coming in the playoffs.
"It's a really good feeling," Southerington said. "Hopefully we can keep these good times rolling. Our back line has just been solid the whole year."
Bay's defense held Rocky River to a mere nine shots on goal the entire game, though the Rockets only managed 10 shots.
The match resembled a track meet, with the ball screaming from end to end for nearly the entire night. That made Dougherty go deep into his roster to keep everyone's legs fresh.
"We went to the bench a little bit more than normal because of the pace of the game," he explained. "We rotated seven players out in the first half, and eventually played 17 people off the bench, in a district final.
"We're mature and we have a bit of a chip on our shoulder," he said.
The loss ends the Pirates' season with a record of 11-4-3, while the Rockets move on to the regional round against Lexington on Wednesday at Perkins High School. Bay now sits at 16-1-2, and is going to prepare to play a team which won its district last Tuesday.
"If you're knicked up, there could be an advantage to having that much time off," Dougherty said.
"But our guys would rather keep on the schedule of train for two days, play a game and then you get four days. It's a rhythm you get into for most of the season, and our guys wouldn't be happy if we had another week off.
"That means we would be doing a lot more fitness, and at this point they want to do rest and recovery," he added.
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Click on the camera below to view Ryan's photos from this match: