On Tuesday, the Girls Varsity Soccer team hosted Rockford for the second of the teams’ two meetings this season. Only a few weeks earlier at Rockford, the Rams had dismantled West Ottawa to emerge with a 6-0 victory. At home for the second meeting, West Ottawa was looking for revenge against their rival who just happened to be ranked No. 8 in the state.
Right from the get-go the Panthers were on their heels as Rockford controlled 90 percent of the possession in the first 15 minutes. The Rams spread the ball wide early and would attack from the wing, looking for a goal from either a cross or a slot pass across the face of goal. Rockford buried their first shot after nine minutes of play, but didn’t show any signs of slowing down. One minute later, West Ottawa Jr. goalkeeper Brooke VanKampen denied the Rams a goal. VanKampen dove to her left, just barely redirecting the ball, but it was enough to get the ball to deflect off the post and keep the score at 1-0. But the onslaught from Rockford was still only in its early stages, and despite the efforts of VanKampen, a failure by the West Ottawa defense to clear the ball lead to a Rockford cross and another goal with 29:16 left in the first half. The Rams put in their third goal of the contest seven minutes later and then with 10:32 to play in the half they added another, to head into halftime up 4-0.
Despite the scoreline, the Panthers pushed hard coming out of the break. They created two chances, but were unable to test the Rockford keeper. Rockford gradually regained control of the game and added yet another goal with 30:52 remaining. About midway through the second half VanKampen came up big again as Rockford broke through the backline to create a 1v1 opportunity with the West Ottawa keeper. VanKampen was able to turn both shots away to keep the score at 5-0 and not anything worse. With ten minutes remaining the Rams struck their final blow with Sr. captain Erika Bradfield recording a hat trick. A hard push by West Ottawa threatened Rockford’s clean sheet in the last five minutes, but the Ram defense survived.
Rockford defeated the Panthers 6-0. The Rams had a total of 18 shots on goal compared to West Ottawa’s 1, although VanKampen was able to thwart 12 of Rockford’s scoring chances. The Panthers will play their next game at Grand Haven on Thursday, May 16 as they continue the search for their first conference win of the season.