By DAVE PEDERSEN
Crow River News Sports
Since Rockford recently joined Delano in the same Wright County Conference, the annual meeting of the neighboring teams has more meaning.
Last week Rockford’s boys and girls teams nipped Delano by the same 1-0 score. A goal by junior Jade Ellis two minutes into the girls game was the difference. The boys won in overtime on a penalty kick by Chris Chavez.
The victory upped the boys record to 5-1 overall, which coach Steve Ulen calls “phenomenal, especially in the conference we play in.”
Rockford moved from the Central Minnesota Conference involving small schools to the Wright County Conference that has much bigger programs like Delano.
“There can’t be any let up as our schedule doesn’t do us any favors this week with three tough games,” says Ulen. “We have set goals this year and can do things that no other boys soccer team at Rockford has ever accomplished. But, we can’t let up. We have to play well every game.”
Also last week the boys defeated Monticello 5-2, powered by two goals each from Chavez and Nick Manthana. Blake Young had a goal and one assist. Goalie Lucas Robinson made eight saves.
“It was probably the best win this program has had in 10 years,” claims Ulen. “We have not beaten Monticello in many, many years. We were very happy to beat a team that won the Mississippi 8 Conference last year.”
Ulen adds how Carter DeWolfe and Fabian Tamayo stood out defensively and Zach Beise and Connor Cruz were solid as usual. Midfielders Christian Swanson, Spencer Hertle, Eliot King and Miguel Ibarra also played very well.
Rockford controlled play for the most part against Delano but couldn’t find any openings in their defense. Ulen said Christian Silva and Hertle played very well off the bench. Chavez and Ibarra were very good in the middle of the field. Manthana moved back to defense and played solidly.
The boys play at home against conference power Orono, 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14 before going to face Heritage Christian Academy, 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16. The Rockets go to New Prague, 7 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 19 before coming home to play Mound Westonka, 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21.
Rockford’s girls lost to Monticello 7-0 when getting only two shots on goal.
“The Monticello loss was tough as no team wants to get beat by that many goals and it presented a challenge to our girls,” said coach Melissa Joseph.
“Would we let the loss defeat us, or could we learn from it and come back to play hard against Delano two days later? The team rallied, was focused and brought renewed toughness to the field for that next game.”
The Rockets only had four shots on goal in the 1-0 victory over Delano. The Tigers had seven shots on goal, all stopped by ninth-grade goalie Ellie Ziemer.
Joseph praised the play of defenders Neely Griffin, McKenzie Rentz, Hailey Ziemer and Sydney Manthana. Notable performances were also made by midfielder Kailey DeWolfe and forward Keeley Hertle.
It was Rockford’s first victory over Delano in four years and only the second time in 10 years. Rockford is 4-3 on the season.
Joseph adds, “I am proud of how the girls responded to the mental challenge and showed their grit in the face of defeat.”
The girls are home against Orono, 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, at New Prague, 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19 and home against Mound Westonka, 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21.