Granville's strategy going into the Division II girls soccer state final yesterday against Rocky River was to control the midfield and stop two of the top five scoring players in the state.
Granville’s strategy going into the Division II girls soccer state final yesterday against Rocky River was to control the midfield and stop two of the top five scoring players in the state.
The Pirates proved just how difficult that task would be when Grace Bennett and Abby Elinsky scored six minutes apart within the first 10 minutes of the game, and Rocky River held on to beat Granville 3-1 at Crew Stadium.
Bennett and Elinsky, who had 35 and 43 goals, respectively, this season, seemed to create scoring chances effortlessly in the first half.
“Those two forwards are by far the best players we’ve seen all year,” Granville coach Scott Forster said. “They were constantly knocking at the door.”
Just two and a half minutes in, Bennett dribbled around two defenders and rolled a shot to the left corner past goalkeeper Tori Long, who came out to challenge the attack. Six minutes later, Elinsky took a long feed and split two defenders for a break on goal. Again, Long came out to challenge, but Elinsky dipped right and sent a shot to the open left corner for a 2-0 lead.
“They both have amazing skills and were able to make cuts, explode off their cuts and dribble right around us,” said Long, who made seven saves, four in the first half.
Forster moved Riley Rosinski from midfield to forward in the second half, and the game opened up.
“We felt like we could give Nikki (Cox) a strike partner, and it put more pressure on them and we were able to have more options,” Forster said.
Cox fed Rosinski for an open look, but she whiffed on the shot. Rosinski quickly redeemed herself with a pass to Taylor Drumm, who was taken down in the box. Cox’s penalty kick made it 2-1 eight minutes into the second half.
Rocky River (22-0-1) turned up the heat again, and when the Blue Aces (19-3-1) defense failed to clear, Bennett took a shot off the left post and then jammed home the rebound with 9:32 remaining.
“We are a potent offense that keeps coming at you,” Rocky River coach Patrick Hopkins said.