Anton Morrison-Sanchez

Titusville's Anton Morrison-Sanchez, who scored the Rockets’ first goal, handles the ball in the midfield during the second half against Saegertown on Saturday. 

It was a golden day for Titusville Rockets’ soccer on Saturday, and the weather could not have been more ideal. The day began with early-morning action in Saegertown as the boys held off the Panthers 3-2. Then, back home in Titusville, the girls survived a physical test against Conneaut Area, coming away with a 2-1 victory.

Boys: Titusville 3, Saegertown 2

With significant playoff implications riding on this second meeting between the Rockets and Panthers, the intensity on the pitch was at a season-high. 

Saegertown may have upended the locals on their home field back on Sept. 21, but this time around, Titusville flipped the script behind two second half goals from Sam Ruot and a third score from Anton Morrison-Sanchez. 

Following the conclusion of the game, Rockets’ head coach Joey Timon was all smiles under the mask, saying that his team’s gameplay was “some of the best soccer we’ve seen.”

The locals’ hot start and success through the midfield led to the game’s first goal. After Titusville’s first three shots were saved by Panthers’ goalkeeper Aidan Rauscher, Rockets’ defender Morrison-Sanchez came up with the ball just inside the 18-yard box, chipping a shot past Rauscher’s left side for his first goal of the season.

The sophomore’s goal would be the only of the first half, despite both sides firing near-even shot totals.

The second half was a different story as Saegertown dropped 16 shots, including nine on Rockets’ netminder Joey Banner. 

The hosts eventually broke though on a cross grounded into the penalty area by Conrad Williams that was met by Eli Mamula and driven low into the bottom left corner to tie the game at 1-1.

Saegertown continued to pound the attacking zone, keeping the Rockets out of their offensive side, but that did not stop the locals from regaining the lead.

After Banner made his sixth save of the ballgame on Lance Bill, the ensuing throw-in reached the foot of Ruot, who carried it down past the center line and gained the zone in front of his own bench. The junior winger was welcomed by a duo of Panther defenders, but he kept his composure and worked his way inside the box and lined a shot underneath the outreached arm of Rauscher and into the bottom of the far corner.

It did not take long for the Panthers to respond, as Bill converted on his eighth shot of the morning to knot the contest at 2-2.

But less than 10 minutes later, it was Ruot again on an eerie similar play, dribbling the ball in front of his own bench into traffic and coming out on the other side with this team-leading 12 goal of the season, again in the bottom right corner to push Titusville ahead for good, 3-2.

“Today felt great,” said Timon. “We started out playing really well, and I think fatigue set in and they started going back to their old ways, but we were able to fight through and pull this one out.”

A huge catalyst for the Rockets’ win was 11 total saves from Banner, including seven in the second half.

“(Joey) has been clutch this season,” explained Timon. “He’s been awesome, and we have been able to count on him which is what you need in a goaltender.”

Titusville will need more than Banner when they host the undefeated Warren Dragons under the lights at Carter Field tomorrow at 6 p.m.

Girls: Titusville 2, Conneaut Area 1

Much like the boys, the Lady Rockets were eager to split their season series with their opponent. On Thursday, Conneaut Area shutout Titusville 4-0 in Linesville. All the momentum was on their side, coming off back-to-back home wins having defeated Maplewood earlier in the week. However, the Lady Rockets came out the gate with an unextinguishable spark.

“We went back to practice (Friday) and learned a little more about how we can possess the ball and work up the field,” said head coach Luke Dye. “I think that was the key today.”

Despite Titusville breaking the ice in the first half, it was a competitively even opening half with both sides managing four shots on goal. It was not until the just under 20 minutes remaining that the locals drew first blood.

As the clock trickled under the 18-minute mark, Lindsay Sines possessed the ball off a throw in on the attacking end of the pitch. The senior navigated to the right corner off the penalty box before sending in a shot that appeared to float over the head of Eagles’ keeper Jocelyn Denihan. It was Sines team-best second goal of the season, snapping a five-game goalless streak for Titusville.

Conneaut Area tried to turn back the tides quickly, garnering a gilt-edged chance on the free kick just three minutes after the locals’ goal. Bailey Clark was able to get a shot past Titusville’s defense, but she could not beat Paisley Crawford who directed the shot wide to keep her side in front.

The save from the Lady Rockets’ netminder ignited a surge from the locals, capitalized by some insurance received on a goal from Adeline Hartshorne. Another senior on this young Titusville squad, Hartshorne took a short pass from Brooke Anthony and wasted no time launching a strike past Denihan’s left side to send the locals’ hopeful into a frenzy. 

The Eagles worked up a surge of their own in the second half, taking 10 shots, but only three of which ended up on goal, including a 30-yard shot from Kylie Longstreth that sneaked under the arms of Crawford and into the back of the net to cut the Rockets’ lead in half just four minutes and fifty-two seconds into the second half. 

Titusville only pulled off three shots in the second frame, but the defense stepped up to the challenge with the assistance of Crawford’s timely goaltending. 

The visitors had an incredible opportunity in the final two minutes as a traffic jam in the penalty box resulted in a point-blank range shot from Samantha Boyer that went right into the arms of Crawford with just under two minutes to play. 

“(Paisley) is not your average sophomore, for sure,” said Dye. “She really stepped up in the final moments, and she proved why she is as great as she is.” 

Crawford made six saves on the afternoon to help a Lady Rockets’ side that was competing with no substitutes available.

“Those girls played with the exact same eleven the entire game,” stressed Dye. “They played their hearts out.”

Titusville continues a four-game home stretch with an evening match at Carter Field tonight at 6 p.m. against Maplewood.

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