On a field unsuitable for soccer, West Ottawa played a ragged first half. Long grass and a cratered landscape prohibited the foot-to-foot passing that characterizes the Panthers’ play. On the other hand, Rockford’s over-the-top strategy was little affected by the poor field conditions.
Rockford controlled play early, scoring at the 30-minute mark after several missed opportunities. Despite the imbalanced play, the Panthers struck next when George Campos lofted a corner kick to the goal mouth where Blake Pedersen headed it back to Omar Mireles, who finished with a volley to the right corner. Rockford scored the game winner with two minutes to play in the first half on a free kick just outside the box.
The Panthers adjusted well, coming out of half with a lot of energy. They controlled play for much of the second half. Neither team developed many scoring opportunities, though, and Rockford held on for the win.
The recap would be incomplete without mentioning the fog of mosquitoes that clouded the field, the benches, and the stands. Players and fans alike reluctantly donated blood throughout the evening.
West Ottawa plays next at home on Thursday (7:15) against Grand Haven.