The Rockford Rams Celebrate as MWPA West Region District 2 Champions. ~ Photo by Tracy Saur
ZEELAND – The Rockford Rams water polo team won their 26th consecutive district title, Saturday, Oct. 20 at Zeeland High School. The Rams competed in the Michigan Water Polo Association’s (MWPA) West Region District 2 Championships and earned the title by downing Portage and East Kentwood. Rockford combined to score 31 goals on the day, while holding their opponents to seven. The wins move the No. 2 ranked Rams to a season record of 33-5.
The Rams faced off against Portage in their first game. Rockford had a 6-3 lead at the half, and then blew it open in the third quarter, finding the back of the net seven times while holding Portage to just one to end the quarter with a 13-4 lead. In the quarter, Zach Burns tallied three of the goals, with Elijah Chino registering two, and Gavin Saur and Brenden Saur adding one each for good measure. The Rams coasted in the fourth, with Chino tallying another goal, while Portage registered two, and the score was 14-6 when the final buzzer sounded.
Keeper Ben Schuchardt tallied 12 saves in the frame. Burns led the team with six goals and two steals, and Chino had four goals, four assists, and one steal. Gavin Saur registered three goals, one assist, and one steal, and Brenden Saur tallied one goal, two assists, and one steal. Kyle Arend had two assists, and four steals, Hudson VerWys had one assist, and two steals, and Nick Deugaw and Christian Wagen tallied a steal apiece.
In the championship game, the Rams slammed through eight goals in the first quarter alone against an thunderstruck East Kentwood team. The Falcons were stymied, unable to score a goal against the potent Rockford defense. This time it was Arend who registered four goals in one stanza, with Burns following with three. Chino also chipped one in and the rout was on with Rockford holding an 8-1 lead at the end of the first period. The Rams continued their offensive onslaught in the second quarter, tallying another four goals, with East Kentwood registering one goal to move the score to 12-1 at the half. The lead allowed head coach Jon Haga to get his starters some rest and earned his other players some valuable experience in the pool. The Rams closed the game with a score of 17-3.
Arend had a big game, registering six goals, one assist, and four steals, as did Burns, who had five goals and four steals. Gavin Saur tallied three goals, one assist, and one steal. Chino scored one goal, had two assists, and one steal, and Kyle Dedert registered a goal and a steal. Nate Hopkins slammed home one goal, and also added a steal. VerWys had three assists, and Nolan Graalman had an assist and a steal. Nate Cheney recorded two steals, while Trey Williams and Brenden Saur each chipped in a steal apiece. Schuchardt registered six saves in the frame, and Logan Harris tallied one.
“This is just the first step to our goal of a 3rd consecutive state championship,” said Haga. “We came into the weekend as a favorite for the district crown and took care of business. We didn’t come out as strong as we could against Portage but turned it around in the championship and played up to our standards. If we come out and play the way we did in the championship next weekend at Regionals, we will be putting ourselves in a good position to be the No. 1 seed going into state. If we want to do that we will have to beat Hudsonville at Hudsonville. I’m looking forward to a strong week of practice, looking forward to some guys stepping up, and looking forward to some great polo the next three weeks.”
The Rams will now prepare for the West Region Championships that will take place Oct. 27-28, at Hudsonville High School. The Eagles will be a formidable opponent for all who enter their home pool, as they are ranked No. 1 and carry a 32-1 record. Their one loss was at the hands of the Rams on Senior Night at the Rockford Natatorium.
Gavin Saur ~ Photo by Tracy Saur
Nick Deugaw ~ Photo by Tracy Saur
Kyle Dedert ~ Photo by Tracy Saur
Kyle Arend ~ Photo by Tracy Saur
Hudson VerWys ~ Photo by Tracy Saur
Nate Cheney ~ Photo by Tracy Saur
Elijah Chino ~ Photo by Tracy Saur
Tag(s): Water Polo