Rattlers soccer battles, but falls in opener
In fact, UW-Rock coach Grant McNall thinks the Rattlers played well against the larger four-year school.
“Rockford College is an NCAA Division III program and should have been the prohibitive favorite, but we took it to them for the first half,” McNall said. “Rockford got a beautiful long kick that nobody would have stopped, and their next goal was a free kick after a silly mistake we made.’’
McNall is looking forward to the Rattlers successfully defending the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference championship. UW-Rock went 7-0 to win the 2008 title.
McNall is not bashful about predicting the Rattlers’ season.
“We are the favorites to win the conference,” McNall said. “We are the defending champions, and until someone knocks us off, we still are the champs.”
The Rattlers lost nine starters from last year’s title team, including all-conference players Ryan Stahl, Michael Strieker, John Grady and Matt Christidis, who accounted for 21 goals last season.
Milton High graduate Matt Drew, a first-team All-Wisconsin Junior College Athletic Association defender, returns. Evansville grad Dominic Amato also returns as starting goaltender.
Despite the heavy loss of skilled players, McNall said the Rattlers have fielded strong replacements.
“We have a good 11 players and we have two or three players to come off the bench,” McNall said.
The Rattlers will depend on second-year players Luke Witek of Janesville Parker and Marcus Meikeljohn of Janesville Oakhill Christian.
UW-Rock newcomers include: Mike Schram, James Baines, Jose Cortez, Ben Hughes and Tanner Harrie from Janesville Craig; Jordan Stone, Kyle Walker and D.J. Duran from Parker; and Mike Bier, Nick Miller and Kyra Givens from Milton.
The Rattlers also have Jose Montero of Beloit Memorial and PeDarrell Collins of Madison La Follette. Matt Santas of Beloit Turner returns after suffering a season-ending injury last year.
“Santas is probably one of our most dangerous players,” McNall said. “
McNall is counting on Santas, Baines, Bier, Baines, Miller, Witek, Drew and Amato to spark the Rattlers.
“I think we are going to look very strong,” McNall said.
ROCKFORD 2, UW-ROCK 0
Rockford College 0 2—2
UW-Rock County 0 0—0
RC—Nate Sweet (unassisted), 60:00. RC—Waler Burke (unassisted), 75:00.
Saves—Matt Zawadzki (Rocf) 4, Dominic Amato (UWR), 9.