Rockford boys soccer takes one-two scoring punch to playoffs

Rockford senior defender Gavin Faber works against Concordia Academy in the 3-0 victory last week. (Photo by Katie Leipholtz)

Rockford’s boys and girls soccer teams start the Section playoffs Thursday, Oct. 14. Both teams showed last week they have some scoring firepower that can come in handy.

Bryan Ortega and Ian Mercil combined to score 11 goals in two wins as the boys team improved to 9-3-2 on the season.

Senior Alex Von Holtum powered the Rocket girls with three goals in the 4-4 tie against Becker last week.

The boys shutout Concordia Academy 3-0 when Keneth Ramirez had two assists and goalie Elliot Colton made three saves in the shutout.

In the 9-4 victory over Melrose, Mercil provided five goals and one assist. Alberto Lopez Martinez scored the other goal, Ethan Scarbrough had two assists and goalie Preston Smith made seven saves.

For the season, Mercil has 21 goals and six assists. Ortega has 20 goals and six assists. The next highest scorer is Scarbrough with four.

“They have had a great year and have a lot in common,” said coach Bobby Von Kaenel about Ortega and Mercil. “Both are skilled with the ball, quick and have a scorer’s mentality, which is what you want in your forwards.”

The coach added the two players have slight differences. Ortega penetrates more off the dribble and creates his own shot. Ian has done the same. He also has anticipated attacking opportunities and was at the right place and the right time.

“While both are exceptional players, I’d say a lot of their success can be attributed to the midfielders,” said Von Kaenel. “We also get help from our outside backs gaining possession, pushing the ball forward and setting up Ian and Bryan for success.”

Midfielders include Matt Larson, Caleb Karg, Scarbrough, and Bryan Sandoval. The outside backs are Gavin Faber and Jay Trandahl.

The coach says it appears Rockford will play at home against Becker in the first round of the playoffs Thursday. The Rockets defeated Becker 6-2 earlier in the season. A win could put Rockford at Willmar, one of the top teams in the state, at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19. The section title game is Oct. 21.

Girls earn No. 6 seed

Rockford’s girls had a good week with a 4-4 tie against Becker. Von Holtum had three goals and Rylee Larson had a goal and two assists.

Coach Melissa Joseph said Rockford had an impressive showing against conference champs Southwest Christian that is 14-1-1.

“We lost 3-0, but held them 0-0 in the second half,” said Joseph. “It was senior night and all eight seniors started and played the majority of the game. The seniors are a huge part of the amazing atmosphere on the team.”

Junior goalkeeper Allie Campbell had another “awesome” game in goal saving 20 shots.

Rockford is 2-8-1, earning the No. 6 section seed. The first game is at No. 3 Watertown-Mayer, 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14. The winner plays Oct. 16 against either No. 2 Holy Family or Providence Academy.

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