The final game of the regular season for two perennial rivals, Rockford and East Kentwood, was going to determine which team would finish in first place and which would end the season in third. The two teams had identical conference records of 5-0-1 going into the game; second place was already wrapped up by Grandville with a conference record of 6-0-2.
In the first half of the game on Tuesday, May 17, the Rams really seemed to dominate the game. The girls took the fight to East Kentwood, made good passes, and kept the ball in front of the Falcons’ goal most of the time.
Rockford Assistant Coach Josh Hartnett said, “We had our opportunities in the first half but just could not capitalize on them.”
Rockford had outshot East Kentwood 5-2, but strong defense and some great saves by the Falcons kept Rockford off the board.
The second half was the Falcons’ turn to push hard, keeping the Rams back on their heels for a time. Then with 25:26 left in the game, with a couple Rockford defenders on the ground, East Kentwood forward Casey McMillan slipped one past Rams goalie Mikaela Harrell to score the only goal of the evening.
The goal seemed to fire up the Rams, as they seemed to take the fight back to the Falcons in a very physical half. It appeared they might be able to pull off one more last-minute goal, as they had done several times already this season, but the last-minute barrage on the Falcon goal came up short. In the end, the Rams officially outshot the Falcons 10-8 and sent numerous other shots high and wide of the net, because the Falcons were able to keep the Rams off balance.
With the win, East Kentwood secured home field advantage for the conference playoffs. Rockford will start at home as well, and with any luck at all, they will get to play the Falcons in the conference championship game May 25.
After the game, both assistant coaches Scott Hazel and Hartnett said they were extremely proud of how well the Rams played. Hazel added that Ram goalkeeper Harrell did a great job of fighting off the Falcons’ high-powered offense.