Kate Huyser

East Kentwood defeats Rockford soccer in battle for league lead

May 27, 2010 // 0 Comments

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Lady Rams collide with top-ranked East Lansing in state quarterfinals

March 25, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford’s Lady Rams’ spectacular season came to an end last Tuesday night only two minutes from a trip to the Breslin Center and a possible state championship game. The East Lansing Trojans arrived in Caledonia for this state quarterfinal match-up rated number one in Class A and sporting their star player Klarissa Bell. Bell had been just awarded Michigan’s “Miss Basketball” title for the top player in the state. East Lansing escaped with a 56-51 win in a thrilling game filled with great plays and excitement throughout. Led by Bell and three Division I college signees in their starting lineup, and holding a 25-1 record, the Trojans must have taken a deep breath as they departed for the ride back home. The Rams gave East Lansing more than they wanted, and then some. Averaging 65 points per game while allowing only 40, East Lansing was stretched to the limit. Rockford scored first, as both teams came out tentative in the first quarter. East Lansing immediately applied full court pressure and continued a tenacious ball-hawking defense throughout the game. After the first eight minutes of play, East Lansing had jumped out to an early 12-7 lead. The second quarter belonged to Rockford, as the Rams outplayed the Trojans on both ends of the court, fighting back into the game with the score all square at 26-26 at the half. The third quarter also belonged to the Rams, as they outscored East Lansing and led 45-37 with less than one minute in the third. The Rams offense opened up during the third quarter, scoring 19 points and holding the Trojans to 15. The fourth quarter began with Rockford leading 45-41—senior Megan Kelley hit 10 of her game high 16 points in the second half. With 6:25 in the fourth, the score was tied 47-47. East Lansing then made their living at the foul line, 12 for 19 in second half, while Rockford was 3 for 5. The disparity in fouls was the deciding factor at game’s end: East Lansing 25/41, Rockford 10/16. With under 2:00 left in the contest, Rockford sophomore Halle Peterson made two free throws to put Rockford on top 51-50, as the crowd rocked with the anticipation of an upset of the number-one Trojans. […]