by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER
The Rockford girls soccer team opened the league season with a formidable win against Hudsonville Friday night, April 16, but against non-league opposition last week, they faltered.
The Rams, now 2-2 overall, beat the visiting Eagles 4-1, taking advantage of four different scorers on the blustery, cold night at Rams Stadium. On Tuesday night and Saturday, April 13 and 17, however, their visitors from Cedar Springs and Petoskey took home the wins.
Rockford began the week with the neighboring Red Hawks, who always put up a fight. The Rams out-shot Cedar Springs 17-5, but never truly managed to get a goal, despite the final 2-1 score. Senior goalkeeper Sarah Sowerwine seemed to be at the top of her game for the Red Hawks, and the Rams just couldn’t get the ball past her and her defenders. Although junior offensive center midfielder Syd Benda kicked the ball last for Rockford and was credited with the goal with 14:37 remaining in the game, Red Hawks’ defender Ashley Fisher actually kicked the ball in as she sought to keep it out of the goal.
Rockford coach Amira Ponne credited Sowerwine and the Red Hawks’ back line with the win. “I don’t think they controlled the game, but their defense was all over the field,” commented Ponne.
Against Hudsonville, the Rams were unstoppable. Benda began the scoring frenzy just five minutes into the game when she shot the ball into the right corner, hitting the inside of the post to secure the goal. Freshman Erika Bradfield had the assist, passing to Benda out in front of the goal.
Bradfield scored the second goal 28 minutes into the second half. Senior Kate Huyser passed the ball to her about midfield, and Bradfield charged toward the goal from the left, got past the defense, and shot the ball past freshman keeper Kayla Pouliot. Huyser followed suit four minutes later when she took the pass from junior Lanie Esch and kicked the ball into the left corner. Senior Sondra Weaver added one more, taking a cross from freshman Katie Hartnett and running it in for a full volley against the keeper eight minutes later.
Hudsonville, which had four shots on goal compared to Rockford’s 10, got on the scoreboard in the last three minutes when Kylie Kukowski’s corner kick was deflected in by the Rockford defense.
“We needed that game,” said Ponne of the win against the Eagles. “It’s great to see that four different girls scored and four different people assisted.”
Against the visiting Northmen of Petoskey, the Rams’ fatigue from the night before showed greatly in the 4-1 loss.
“We had back-to-back tough games. To win two nights in a row would be hard no matter who we are playing,” said Ponne. “But it’s better to see our weaknesses in a non-league game than in a league game.”
The Rams out-shot the Northmen 13-8, but of Petoskey’s four opportunities in the second half, they scored on three. Rockford’s lone goal came 13 minutes into the second half when Benda’s pass to the middle went right to Esch, who kicked the ball between two defenders, ran after it, and kicked it in from 12 yards out.