Rockford native Samantha Decker was part of the No. 2 Grand Valley State University (GVSU) women’s soccer team’s third straight appearance in the NCAA Division II National Championship game. Decker helped the Lakers to an overall record of 20-1-4. GVSU finished the year ranked fourth in goals-against average (0.384), posted 16 shutouts and outscored their opponents 64-10. Decker played in eight games this season as a sophomore taking four shots as a defender. GVSU reached the championship game after a shootout against Chico State, advancing 3-2 on penalty kicks. It was the fourth time in six years that the team advanced to the national championship. Decker is part of a sophomore class that has posted a two-year record of 42-2-6 and 90.0 winning percentage. Decker played four years at Rockford High School, helping the Rams to two district championships and was also named to the All District and Academic All Nation teams. She is a Dean’s List honoree, majoring in health professions.
Rockford native Samantha Decker was part of the No. 2 Grand Valley State University (GVSU) women’s soccer team’s third straight appearance in the NCAA Division II national championship game. Decker helped the Lakers to an overall record of 20-1-4. GVSU finished the year ranked fourth in goals-against average (0.384), posted 16 shutouts and outscored their opponents 64-10. Decker played in eight games this season as a sophomore taking four shots as a defender.
by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER Take notice, soccer fans and foes alike. The new and improved Rockford girls soccer team will be a force with which to be reckoned this year. The girls proved that Friday night, March 26, with a 3-1 victory over Forest Hills Eastern in the home opener at Rams Stadium. Second-year coach Amira Ponne couldn’t have been prouder. “We really showed our strength,” she said. “This was a big win. Last year we tied 1-1. This year we have a clear 3-1 victory. Before the game I looked at their roster and saw that they have a lot of the same girls from last year. They don’t have a lot of young girls on their team. Our team has changed a lot. We really showed our strength with some of our freshmen. We showed them our new format.” That new format, which includes just nine returners and four starters on the 23-member team, has lots of speed and skill. Whereas the Rams of the past used more brute strength and size to get the job done, this team has finesse and scoring ability. For the first time in four years, that lineup also includes a new goalie. The Rams relied on Kristin Darby to keep the ball out of the net throughout her high school career, but when she graduated last spring, Ponne was left pondering what to do. The solution? She found not one, but two capable underclassmen to take the helm. Starting for the Rams Friday night was sophomore Makaela Harrell, who gave up just one goal in the first half. Finishing for the Rams was junior Karlee Flegel, who came in with six minutes left to play, but also saw a lot of playing time in preseason scrimmages Saturday and the previous weekend. The Rams got off to a convincing start just eight minutes into the game when freshman speedster Katie Hartnett took advantage of an open net. As senior Kate Huyser drove up the middle, Forest Hills Eastern (FHE) goalkeeper Michelle Marcus came out to stop her. Huyser’s ball went around Marcus, and Hartnett was in the right place at the right time to kick it in from close proximity. “Katie Hartnett is a scrapper. She was relentless at […]