Kara Klausing

Rams soccer comes from behind to win in conference tourney opener

May 27, 2010 // 0 Comments

by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER Missed opportunities have plagued the Rockford girls soccer team all season long. Many times they have outplayed their opponents, only to lose in the last few minutes of the contest. When they found themselves trailing host Grandville 2-0 in the OK Red conference tournament opener Thursday night, May 20, at Grand View Elementary School, they had a decision to make: Let the Bulldogs have the victory, or find it within themselves to pull together and win. They chose the latter, erasing the 2-0 halftime deficit to win 3-2. “The biggest thing is what we proved to ourselves,” said Coach Amira Ponne. “We can come from two goals down and score three goals to win. The girls trusted us in the decisions we made. They believed it and it worked.” In an effort to jumpstart the comeback, the coaches switched the Rams’ formation at halftime. While a flat-back four defense has worked for the Rams most of the time this season, Ponne changed it to a diamond four with a sweeper and a stopper, moving freshman defender Erika Bradfield up into the middle offense, bringing senior midfielder Al Huyser back to the stopper position, and putting senior Sam Decker at sweeper. The switch proved valuable. “We’ve always wanted to do it but felt she [Bradfield] was solid back there on defense,” said Ponne. “She plays nice through balls and is very aggressive. She makes a lot of stuff happen. Al was winning the 50/50 balls back there. We needed something different back there, and she is so patient. We knew she would step up.” Although Ponne was hesitant to switch the defense because the girls hadn’t practiced it, something goalkeeper coach Scott Hazel said spurred her into action. “Scott said ‘2-0 or 30-0, it makes no difference’,” said Ponne. In the first half, the Rams seemed to always be a step behind and just off the mark on their shots. Although Rockford had many opportunities, the speedy, aggressive Bulldogs were constantly intercepting passes and moving to the ball faster, and their defense was shutting down any forward movement. “We knew coming in that Grandville’s strength was their speed and that they worked well together as a team,” said Ponne. “They are fast everywhere […]

Rams soccer lacks finishing power in rough week

May 13, 2010 // 0 Comments

by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER “Shots don’t win games; goals do.” That apropos comment, made last week by an observant parent at a Rockford varsity girls soccer game, is one lesson Coach Amira Ponne will be reinforcing in practice and competition this week. If the team doesn’t get the ball into the back of the net, the Rams won’t win. “If we would take shots, the goals could happen,” said Ponne, as she reflected on last week’s 1-1 tie to Reeths Puffer Wednesday and a 1-0 loss to West Ottawa Friday night. “How do we constantly keep possession of the ball and not win? The forwards must score. Everyone else is doing their part. The forwards have to do their job. All they have to do is score goals.” The Rams have been outshooting their opponents all season, and they maintain possession of the ball the majority of the time. Finding the back of the net has been hard, however. “No one is scoring even though we have the best scoring capability,” said Ponne. “They must find it within themselves to get over this.” In the game at Reeths Puffer, the Rams outshot the Rockets 18-6, but their only goal came from a penalty kick scored by Syd Benda early in the second half. Tripped in the box, she stepped up and took the shot, putting it into the right corner to tie the game. Co-captain Kate Huyser, who leads the team in scoring this year, took the first shot of the game for the Rams seven minutes into the match, but her shot, like many others, hit the crossbar and bounced away. The Rams had several corner kicks that they didn’t finish either, and more than one direct kick didn’t find its way into the net. “We were a better team, but we hit the crossbar I don’t know how many times,” said Huyser. The loss was not all negative, however. The Rams walked off the field without any injuries, which led the girls and their parents to sighs of relief after playing the dangerously aggressive Rockets. “I was just happy no one got hurt,” said Huyser. “They were a rough team and we only had two refs and they couldn’t see everything.” On Friday, West […]

Rockford girls soccer overcomes sorrow to succeed

May 6, 2010 // 0 Comments

by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER Sorrow played a heavy hand against the Rockford girls soccer team in the last two weeks, but for those 80 minutes out on the field, the Rams were able to overcome their grief and play great soccer. They won two of their three games in the midst of their despair, and even their loss felt like a victory. Reeling from the death of popular Freshman Center health teacher Jan Egbert two weeks ago, the ninth-graders and others who had known her were downcast, but with the help of their teammates, they easily defeated OK Red rival Jenison 7-0 on April 23. Last week Wednesday, April 28, as the pain of that death was lifting, the Rams played a terrific game against Class B leader Spring Lake, holding them to a 1-1 tie until just three minutes remained before losing 2-1. Euphoric after that loss which felt like a win, the Rams went home happy, but their joy soon turned to mourning again when they learned of the unexpected death of senior Stephen May, a three-sport athlete and all-round good guy. When the girls took the field Friday night, April 30, against league rival Grand Haven, their distress was evident. They picked each other up, however, and beat the visiting Buccaneers 2-1 to put their league record at 3-0. “We were still trying to heal from Jan’s death and now this,” said Coach Amira Ponne, as she exited the field. “With all of the tragedy in the last two weeks, they’ve been through a lot, but it has made us stronger. The girls love each other so much. They are such a special group of girls. The seniors are so tight; they have played with each other forever. The freshmen cared so much to see their mentors upset. They stepped up support-wise.” Grand Haven has always been a conference rival for the Rams, but Friday night, they were the least of the team’s worries. The Rams went in wanting to win and get the game over with. Under the circumstances, they played quite well, dominating the shooting (15-7) and controlling the ball for much of the game. They passed well. They communicated, and they scored. “I think that part of it [success] is […]