Coach Steve Thomas (left) sits alongside three Rockford varsity soccer teammates (l–r) Emily Cowan, Sidney Benda and Melanie (Lanie) Esch on Friday, Feb. 4, as they sign to play soccer in college. The signing took place in the Rams Den at Rockford High School before families and friends. Cowan signed with Cleveland State University, Benda signed with Savana College of Design, and Esch with Costal Carolina. They are all looking forward to one last season with the Rams before going to play at their new schools.
Rockford varsity soccer
by DAN LEESA The Rams’ varsity soccer players kicked off their season in August loving Saturdays. After losing a core of 12 strong seniors and grueling weeks of pre-season conditioning, Rockford’s newly formed varsity team came out of the gate on Saturday, Aug. 22 without time for small talk during the Portage Central Invitational. The field catered to no one during the first match against a highly ranked Okemos crew. Though rough ground conditions coughed up a havoc of bad bounces, creating scoring opportunities for Okemos’ skilled strikers, Rockford senior goalie Sean Lewis and a motivated defense kept them off the board. Rockford won the first match 1-0 courtesy of Okemos and a misguided ball in the first half. Strongly favored to win, Stoney Creek faced off against a Rams team ignited. Rockford scored on a streamlined ball from freshman Dewey Lewis to senior Andrew Wyles, who drilled an upper 90 blast past the keeper 20 yards off the net. Stellar play from sophomore Cam Jensen and senior Kyle Cook kept Stoney Creek Academy player Jordan Tyler trapped in the midfield. Meanwhile, senior defenders Joe Weber and Michael Bertsch, backed by junior Dylan Bronkema, held Tyler’s teammates in check to close the game 1-0. Though exhilaration traded places with fatigue during the heated tourney’s third match against South Lyon, a precision touch shot over the keeper’s head by Wyles sealed the deal 1-0 yet again and sent home inspired players. And then Monday, Aug. 24’s home opener against Lowell rolled around. While starters Dewey Lewis and Jensen sat out with injuries, a Rams team—still rebounding from the Portage tourney’s unfaltering physical action—struggled to connect passes. Several turnovers on the defensive end, despite Rockford’s refueled attempts to find the net, led to Lowell’s 1-0 win. On Wednesday, Aug. 26, the Rams journeyed to Fruitport. The rivals finally scored on a cross to an open striker, sending Rockford home without a post for the scoreboard, 0-1. Heading into Saturday, Aug. 29’s high noon match against Michigan’s number-one-ranked Class B team, Forest Hills Eastern, Rockford stepped up their game. While Eastern controlled possession and pleased home bleachers with a goal in the first half, Rams’ […]
by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER The contest on March 30 between the Rockford varsity girls soccer team and the visiting Fremont Packers was a mismatch from the start. First of all, the Rams boast 20 players on the roster; Fremont just pulled up a junior varsity player to round out theirs at 12. Second, the Rams pride themselves in a starting goalie with four years of varsity experience and a back-up goalie who led the team to a district championship last season. The Packers have a sophomore goalie who plays two other sports. Third, the Rams have more speed and skill than the visitors from the north. But the Packers deserve credit. They came to play and made a game of it, especially in the first half. After watching Rockford’s junior varsity team mercy the Packers 8-0 in the first half Monday night, the Packers’ fans could only imagine what would happen in the feature game. After all, Fremont originally had Hart on its schedule for the night, a game against more evenly matched opponents. When the Pirates had to cancel and Rockford was looking for an opponent, the Packers acquiesced, knowing they would be the underdog. Because the junior varsity game ended early, many of the Rockford fans missed much of the first half of the game. What they missed was lots of shots on goal by the Rams with only one-the first one-going in. Junior Kate Huyser lit up the scoreboard 81 seconds into the contest with a shot from the right that sailed past Fremont goalkeeper Kaitlyn Van Boven into the middle of the net. The Rams’ many other opportunities in that half went wide or high or were batted away or sailed into the waiting hands of Van Boven. In retrospect, the Packers had one shot on goal three minutes into the half. Rockford starting goalkeeper Kristin Darby made an easy save. “We definitely gave their keeper a workout,” said Rockford’s Coach Amira Ponne. “I thought she did well considering the circumstances and pressure she was under.” Although the Rams only led 1-0 at the half, Ponne was happy that the girls were taking shots. “The shots will fall,” she explained. “At this point, I just want them feeling confident about taking the […]