by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER
The annual conference game between the Rockford varsity girls soccer team and the East Kentwood Falcons is always a “clash of the Titans,” and Friday’s fight for the OK Red lead was no exception.
The Rams and Falcons were mirror images of each other in many ways, but one small fact made all of the difference: East Kead with Class B leader Spring Lake three weeks ago. Holding the Lakers to a tie for the entire game, the Rams lost in the final three minutes. Ditto against Kentwood.
The Rams scored first when the Huyser twins, Kate and Al, made the Falcons take a double take just four minutes into the game. Al took a corner kick from the left side and her sister placed herself in front of the net to take advantage of the opportunity.
East Kentwood’s Becca Means, who will take her talent to Central Michigan University next fall, tied the game six minutes later, racing past the defense and putting it into the left side of the net.
The next 65 minutes saw the two teams at a stalemate, with both teams having opportunities and neither scoring. Credit Rockford’s flat-back four defense, especially the play of senior Celine Stallmer, with keeping Means and company out of the net. Stallmer—who played the best game of her life, according to Ponne—was a pest to the future Chippewa, and her relentless pressure forced Means to switch sides of the field to try to score from another angle.
“They were a very physical team,” said Stallmer. “I’m not a dirty player, but you had to body up and be confident to hold your ground. You had to go for every 50/50 ball and know you are going to come out on top.”
Rockford goalie Karlee Fluegel was also at the top of her game, deflecting, punching out or catching all but two of the Falcon shots. That 11th shot on goal by East Kentwood’s Casey McMillan was basically a non-defendable goal. McMillan took the pass from the right, turned at an awkward angle, and sent the ball flying into the net with 3:13 remaining in the game.
The Rams almost scored as time ran out. Al Huyser patiently passed the ball right in front of the net and the Rams rushed in, but East Kentwood goalkeeper Kara Scaturro was somehow able to grab the ball in traffic as time ran out.
Earlier in the week, the Rams mercied league foe Muskegon 8-0, ending the game with 22 minutes remaining. Rockford’s junior varsity squad was less merciful to the Big Reds. They mercied their hosts 8-0 just 18 minutes into the game. Kate Huyser and Lanie Esch led the Rams’ varsity squad with two goals each. Also scoring were Missy Biener, All Huyser, Sydney Benda and Jordyn Ryfiak.