The Rams water polo team celebrates earning third-place in the state of Michignan. ~ Photo by Bill Hopkins
EAST LANSING – The Rockford Rams water polo team entered the pool for their final match of the season, Saturday, Nov. 16, at 6:15 p.m., in the Michigan Water Polo Association’s State Championships. The game was against a tough Ann Arbor Pioneer team, and the winner would claim third place in the state. The Rams had earned the honor of playing for third in the state of Michigan by topping Ann Arbor Huron, 15-2, and then fell victim to No. 2 State-Ranked Dexter by a 12-7 score in a hard-fought match. Pioneer snuck by Zeeland by a 10-9 score and then was bulldozed by powerful No. 1 ranked Hudsonville, 20-2.
Both teams were ready for redemption in the quest for third. It was an exciting match that wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter. The first quarter let fans know it was going to be battle, with both teams finding the back of the net four times. Elijah Chino and Kyle Dedert helped the Ram cause, with both scoring twice to keep the Rams in pace with Pioneer. The second quarter found the Rams shutting down Pioneer with stellar defense and saves from Ram keeper Ben Schuchardt, allowing only one goal. Dedert led the Rams with two steals for the quarter. On the offensive side of the ball, Rockford was able to notch two goals with Chino and Hudson Verwys scoring for the Rams. The teams headed into halftime with Rockford holding a slim 6-5 lead.
Pioneer came out in the third quarter with a vengeance, netting two goals while holding the Rams to none, moving the score to 7-6, with Rockford on the wrong end. The Rams would not be denied, turning on play in the fourth to dominate the final quarter. Chino tallied two more goals for the Rams, and Verwys netted one to help the Rams on offense, adding three on the scoreboard. The Rams defense completely stifled Pioneer, with Dedert and Brenden Saur notching a steal apiece.
For the game, the Rams tallied six assists and four steals for the game. Chino led the way with five goals, and two assists. Dedert tallied two goals and four steals. Verwys netted two goals and one steal. Also helping the Ram cause were Nate Hopkins with two assists, Nick Deugaw with an assist, and Saur with a steal. Keeper Schuchardt tallied an impressive 20 saves and had an assist.
“The guys played an excellent game to claim third place in the state,” shares head coach Craig Peterman. “The team kept their composure while having to face a talented team.”
Hudsonville claimed State Champion, by beating Dexter in the finals by a 10-7 score.
Ram keeper Ben Schuchardt played tough between the sticks the entire tournament. ~ Photo by Bill Hopkins
Brenden Saur rises for a goal during the MWPA State Tournament. ~ Photo by Bill Hopkins
The Rams were tough on the defensive side of the ball. ~ Photo by Bill Hopkins
Elijah Chino led the Rams in scores in the MWPA contest for third place. ~ Photo by Bill Hopkins
Hudson Verwys looks for an open Ram during MWPA State Championship play. ~ Photo by Bill Hopkins
The water polo team always brings a cheering section, no matter how far they have to travel. ~ Photo by Bill Hopkins