By Justin Haggerty
The Rockets dedicated their soccer field to the memory of former R-P player and coach Eric Marcil, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 25 after battling lymphoma.
The emotion of the night help propel the Rockets to their first win of the season, a 3-0 victory over Whitehall in non-league action.
The game was also special for Reeths-Puffer goalkeeper Elysia Mattos, who set the school career record with her 24th shutout – and she’s only a junior.
Reeths-Puffer is now 1-1-3 on the season. Whitehall dropped to 0-3.
“Eric Marcil was one of my great friends,” Tjapkes said. “I grew up playing ball with him and hanging out with him and just being great friends.
“It was really difficult when he lost his battle. Watching Eric coach kind of got me engaged in coaching over the years. It’s an honor to follow in Eric’s footsteps and continue rebuilding our program with the character and class that Eric had.”
Reeths-Puffer scored twice in the first 4:57 of the game on goals from senior Jenna Stolzman and sophomore Haley Ruiter.
Ruiter found the back of the net again with 16:25 to play in the half after dribbling through a crowd and chipping the ball over the Vikings’ goalkeeper.
The Rockets controlled the play throughout the first half, missing on a handful of close scoring chances.
The second half was largely uneventful for both teams, with the Rockets managing only two shots and Whitehall getting none.
Having his team get off to a quick start, then go quiet in the second half, did not sit well with Tjapkes.
“I think scoring too early relaxed us too much,” he said. “We lost our focus and didn’t maintain our composure and do what we wanted to do. We let them dictate how the game was going to be played rather than stay with our game plan.
“That’s something we have to get better with, especially with the conference and the district we’re in, those games are ones we can’t lose our focus on.”