district title winners

Rockford girls soccer wins district title in shootout thriller

June 4, 2009 // 0 Comments

by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER Talk about pressure! After playing 110 intense, scoreless minutes of soccer-including two 15-minute overtimes-against host West Ottawa in the district title game Friday night, May 29, the Rams needed to outshoot the Panthers at point-blank range to call the title theirs. Assistant coach Scott Hazel, using an abandoned envelope from a greeting card, quickly jotted down the names of five players from the Rams’ roster of 22 to take the shots. Hazel was shaking so badly that his handwriting was barely decipherable. Meanwhile, four-year goalkeeper Kristin Darby-who has been nursing a sore shoulder since Wednesday’s 5-0 shutout against Hudsonville in the district semifinal-prepared to stop five West Ottawa shots. And waiting anxiously in a line in front of the goal was the entire Ram brigade, with the five chosen ones waiting nervously among them. In the stands, their parents anxiously bit their lips and prayed for success. The Rams won the toss and opted to shoot first in the every-other lineup. Senior co-captain Rachel Doud, a deceptively fast midfielder, stepped to the line first. She shot and scored from 12 yards out, sending the Rockford crowd into hysterics. West Ottawa’s first player did the same, however, and the score was tied. Next up for Rockford was Jordan Diffenderfer, whose wily and aggressive play often confuses the opposition. Her shot flew past late-diving Panther goalkeeper Katie Overway. But West Ottawa scored again, making the score even. Sydney Benda, the Rams’ sophomore standout, was third in the shoot-out lineup for the Rams. She scored, and the crowd went crazy. Again, West Ottawa echoed the result, putting the pressure on Rockford defender Sam Decker as she stepped to the line. Decker took her shot and scored, too, but because the referee had not blown his whistle, she was forced to shoot again. Her next shot put the Rams up 4-3 in the shootout. West Ottawa’s next shot hit the post and bounced off, giving Rockford sophomore Lanie Esch, who was just called up to the team on Wednesday from the junior varsity squad, the opportunity to seal the 1-0 win. She answered the challenge, and the Rams captured their third district title in four years. “We so deserved that!” said Hazel after the game. “I […]