BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Rockford boys soccer is off to its best start in 10 years with a 3-2 record.
Wins have been against Princeton (2-0), Watertown-Mayer (3-2) and Mayer Lutheran (5-0). Defeats came against strong private schools, Heritage Christian Academy (7-1) and Providence Academy (2-0).
“I am very happy with our progress to date and I am particularly excited for the juniors and seniors this season,” says coach Mike Leipholtz, who is in his fifth year as head coach. “It was not too long ago (2009) when those some boys as eighth and ninth graders played a varsity schedule and lost all games, getting out-scored 125-3.”
Prior to Leipholtz, there were five different head coaches in the first nine years of the boys program, which made it difficult to build momentum and player numbers.
“In my first season in 2008 the boys program consisted of 28 players in grades 7-12,” recalls Leipholtz. “The Program has grown steadily to where we are in the mid-40’s this season.”
Leipholtz said his now veteran players know how to battle through adversity and appreciate the better times more than most their age.
Captains Zack Guthrie, Adam Anderson, Chad Robertson and Brad Johnson have set the winning tone this year, notes the coach, adding, “They have raised the bar for themselves, their teammates and the soccer program as a whole.”
Scoring has been spread around with junior Nate Ulen leading with six points. Sophomore goalie Cameron Myers has posted two shutouts.
“Our technical ball possession skills are the foundation for our improved play this season,” said Leipholtz. “Many of the boys played winter indoor soccer and summer traveling soccer and all those extra touches are paying off. The guys are more skilled, and most importantly, more confident with the ball.”
Team goals for this season are to finish .500 or better and get a section playoff win.
“These may seem like modest goals for schools with established soccer programs,” adds the coach. “For Rockford, whose program has been rebuilding for four years, these goals represent significant progress.”
The next home game is 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 against Mayer Lutheran.
After earning a 1-1 tie against Southwest Christian Tuesday, Sept. 4, the girls soccer team lost 4-0 to both Monticello Thursday and Providence Academy Saturday. Julia Trandahl scored the goal against SWC.
The girls are home against Mayer Lutheran, 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at St. John’s Prep, 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14 and home to West Lutheran, Tuesday, Sept. 20.