OTTUMWA — What happened in Ottumwa on Tuesday night was bigger then soccer.
It was Tuesday that the Ottumwa boys and girls soccer teams played their first games on their newly sodded, leveled, and named field.
On January 26, the Ottumwa school board passed a vote to name the newly renovated and previously unnamed field after Eric Wertheim.
Wertheim, a long-time Ottumwa soccer advocate, passed away in October 2007, but his name will forever be linked to soccer at Wertheim Field.
It’s Wertheim who can be partially credited for the success of Ottumwa’s youth and high school soccer movement as a coach, and a member of the Ottumwa A-Club.
“He wanted to make sure kids in Ottumwa had a soccer experience,” said Eric’s widow, Karen Wertheim. “We moved here in 1999, and Eric joined the A-Club and helped get soccer started. I think people wanted it.”
Wertheim also played college at the high school and college levels. After leaving the field as a college graduate, Wertheim became of member of the Cedar Rapids Comets, which was the first soccer club league in the city of Cedar Rapids. Wertheim played the forward position. Wertheim played for free, and traveled all through the Midwest area just for the love of the game.
“Eric did it all for the love of the game,” said old teammate Brian D. Cohan who played with Wertheim for over 15 years.
The Ottumwa girls team was able to beat out Fairfield 3-0, marking the first-ever played game on Wertheim Field with a win.
Jacqueline Vonderhaar, Yenifer Genovia, and Kayley VanVelsor all scored goals for the Bulldogs. VanVelsor and Vonderhaar, along with teammate Sam Keith played for Wertheim during their youth.
“To be able to come home and play our first home game on the night of the dedication was definitely motivation for the girls,” said girls coach Erin Ebling. “It did mean a lot for our girls it was a big deal for them to be a part of it.”
The Bulldog boys also left Wertheim Field undefeated.
The Bulldogs were able to down Fairfield, who was previously 4-0, 4-1. Ceaser Botello performed a hat trick for the fans in attendance by scoring three goals on the contest. Wertheim’s son Alex also saw some action during the contest.
“He’s excited,” said his mom Karen. “He’s been waiting for this for a while.”
Karen went on to explain how Eric may feel about the evening.
“He was a very humble guy,” said Karen. “I’m not sure if he’d want this in his name, but it’s a fitting way to remember him. I’ve seen the soccer program take kids who may not have been doing well in school and help them become well-rounded individuals.”
Werthiem Field will remain undefeated for a while, as both boys and girls teams are away during their next games. The boys will travel to Des Moines North on Thursday. The girls will be in action next week at Centerville.
Ottumwa 3, Fairfield 0
FAIR 0 0 — 0
OTT 2 1 — 3
Ottumwa — Jacqueline Vonderhaar assist Kaley VanVelsor (17:53)
Ottumwa — Yenifer Segovia assist Jessica Ghotra (27:40)
Ottumwa — VanVelsor assist Annie McDanel (21:38).
Ottumwa: Total Shots — 27 (Vonderhaar). Total Saves — 2 (Amber Bates). Total Fouls — 3.
Fairfield: Total Shots — 2. Total Fouls — 4.
Ottumwa 4, Fairfield 1
F — Bousquet (penalty kick) 16:40.
O — Cesar Botello (assist Joe Roark) (21:00)
O — Roark
O — Botello (assist Rene Perez)
O — Botello
Fairfield: Total Shots — 4. Total Saves — 13 Total Fouls — 8.
Ottumwa: Total Shots — 21 (Botello 4, Angelo Kelly 6). Total Saves — 15 (Ethan Abney). Total Fouls — 9.