Bradley’s rare goal is game-winner vs. Twin Lakes
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
In an emotional game wet due to both rain and tears, Rochester girls soccer player Kendyll
Bradley picked quite the time for her first career varsity goal Thursday.
She scored from 15 yards out after a wild scramble in front of the net to cap a comeback from a two-goal deficit as the Lady Zs edged Twin Lakes 3-2 at the Brent Blacketor
Memorial Sports Complex.
Amy Williams and Abbi Richard also scored for RHS, who finished the regular season 9-2. Dallas Holloway had two assists, and Mercedes Brown had one.
Bradley was trailing the play after Brown, Richard and Holloway all appeared to have their chances knocked down in front of the net.
The ball was deflected out to Bradley, who shot just over the outstretched fingertips of the Twin Lakes goalkeeper for the go-ahead goal. RHS coach Chantal Rensberger called it a “trash ball” whenever a close-range shot gets kicked out of the zone.
“I was very shocked because I’m defense, and it went in,” Bradley said. “Because I usually kick over, but it fell right over her hands, so that was good.”
Bradley said she was going to miss the seniors, who were playing in their final home game.
“They made the team this year,” Bradley said. “They were really big leaders. They helped everyone a lot.”
Rensberger said she is close with the team’s six seniors – Richard, Holloway, Brown, Tessa Brooks, Ellie Shank and Krista Dillingham – as their development as players coincided with her becoming coach.
“They’re like my kids,” Rensberger said. “I believe that I took the program over when they were freshmen. So they’ve been with me from the start. They’re all smart and funny and athletic, and they give me 110 percent, and the majority of them have been four-year starters. So it’s a big loss for our program, but at the same time, the leadership they have shown … some of these other girls such as Kendyll, Mackie Leslie, even Lillith Eaton as a freshman, Macie Nelson … That group has given them all their confidence, so I know that next year, while we’ll lose them and we’ll miss them, we’re still going to come back just as strong as ever.
“Honestly, in the six years I’ve been part of this program, they are probably the most influential group of players that have come through. They mean the world to our whole entire team.”
Bradley said the game was physical. Bradley said the Twin Lakes players engaged in trash talking. Rensberger said there was “chippy stuff” going on.
The center referee stopped play to lecture Rochester fans in the second half for their verbal abuse of him after they felt he wasn’t calling enough fouls on Twin Lakes. A yellow card call on Brooks might have added to the fans’ ire.
The referee spoke loudly enough to be heard telling the Rochester parents that they don’t know the rules of the sport and he dared them to obtain a referee’s license.
“They have a new coach this year, so they were definitely a little bit more aggressive and fired up than in years past,” Rensberger said. “Their ability has improved. They have a couple good players that are quick and fast. But I just told my girls to play our game, and we persevered and got three in the second (half), and our defense had a complete shutout in the second half.
“So, I mean, it’s huge for our record. This program has never been 9-2, so to win our last home game for my seniors, that’s a big win.”
Bradley is also a member of the RHS girls cross-country team. With the soccer team having already clinched the TRC, she’ll go for her second TRC title of the fall sports season at Tippecanoe Valley on Saturday.
“It’s been very hectic,” Bradley said. “But it’s fun because I just run for practice to the field and then do soccer practice. It’s fun because I like running sometimes. It gets tiring a lot, but just stick with it. And because the cross-country team’s really good, so I like being with them, and that’s the reason why I do it.”
RHS to play North Miami in sectional
The Lady Zs drew North Miami in a Class 1A, Sectional 35 quarterfinal. Game time is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Newton Park in Lakeville.
RHS beat the Lady Warriors 3-0 on Sept. 23 and also knocked North Miami out of last year’s sectional.
“The coach (Jason Faine) and I actually have a really good friendship,” Rensberger said. “He’s a great guy. He’s great. He’s very realistic with his players. We played a good game against them. It was a sloppy win. I will say that. So I think at 7 o’clock under the lights, I think our girls are going to have a little bit of momentum, and they’re going to carry that in, and I’m looking forward to playing them. They’re always a good team to play. They’re very respectful. And I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll win.”