Lady Rams water polo faces tough opponents in well-fought games

Coming off their six-day grueling schedule, the Lady Rams varsity and junior varsity teams traveled to East Kentwood High School on Tuesday, April 20 to take on the Falcons. The JV “loaned” three players to East Kentwood for a scrimmage, which they won handedly 13-4, with contributions from players across the roster. Freshman Adrianna Craft led the scoring with five goals.

The varsity played tough defense against the Falcons, but their shooting was off just slightly, with 26 attempts hitting the post or sailing wide or high. The Lady Rams fell short, losing 4-6. Scoring was led by senior Christina Weston with two goals, and Amanda Johnson and Casey Wolfer also scored. Co-captains Tiffany Ellenbaas, Natalie Beeg and Ashley Gremel led the defensive charge, with Elenbaas stopping eight, stealing one, and assisting on a goal. Gremel and Beeg combined for nine steals.

With just a day to rest, both teams came back strong to host the Jenison Wildcats. The JV team battled into overtime, when hole set Craft spun a back-handed shot past the goalie to win 8-7. Goalie Elli Raymond was strong in net with 10 saves and one assist. Craft led the scoring with four, Sarah Smith found the net three times, and freshman Marie Siegel scored once. Coach Katie Clarin noted that the team really picked up its defense with 19 steals. Abby Finlayson set the pace with four steals.

Following its tough loss to Jenison, the varsity Lady Rams took to the water with purpose and focus, dominating the tough Wildcats from start to finish, winning 11-6. Sophomore Casey Wolfer led with five goals, Weston had two, and Gremel, Downs, Beeg and Van Portfliet each found the back of the net for one goal. Beeg’s pinpoint passing accounted for four assists.

The varsity team didn’t let down, heading to Stevenson, Ill., on Friday through Saturday, April 23-24, to take on very talented northern Chicago area teams.

Game one Friday night was against tournament host Stevenson High School. The Lady Rams attacked on defense from start to finish, combining for 15 steals to win 8-5. Junior Taylor Downs led the scoring with three goals. Brandy Fase, Weston, Beeg, Wolfer and Lauren Hulsebus each contributed one goal.

Rockford’s second game Friday night against McAuley was a hard-fought battle start to finish, with the Rams jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first quarter. McAuley came right back, tying the score at halftime. The fourth quarter began 4-4; unfortunately the team’s weary legs fell short of the W, losing 6-7 in the final minute of the game. Wolfer found the net twice, and Gremel, Downs, Weston and Finlayson also contributed. Elenbaas was tough in goal, stopping 10 attempts.

The Lady Rams played strong tough defense on Saturday, but fell to two very tough teams, Fenwick (5-9) and Mundelein (2-5). Gremel led the scoring against Fenwick with two, and Downs, Weston and Hulsebus each scored one. Junior Erica Finlayson rocketed two outer perimeter shots in against Mundelein for the sole scoring. Coach Scott Voltz congratulated his team on the “good losses” against very strong teams.

The JV team participated in the Grand Haven Invitational on Friday and Saturday, April 23-24, winning the tournament. To make the championship game, the Lady Rams defeated East Kentwood 11-3, Grand Ledge 11-3, and Grand Haven 5-4. Grand Haven had varsity players participating in this hard-fought battle. In the championship, the Rams found the net six times, led by Sarah Smith (three goals), Adrianna Craft (two), and Morgan Lipe (one). Raymond stopped five attempts. The team played tough defense throughout the tournament.

Senior Natalie Beeg scores for the Rams.

The Lady Rams travel to Grandville on Tuesday, April 27, then return home Thursday for their Pink Polo Power tournament against Zeeland. Come out and see the pool and players transformed into a sea of pink—all to raise money for the Susan G. Komen for a Cure Foundation, Grand Rapids Chapter.

The varsity girls will host a tournament on Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1. Their first game is against Jenison at 4:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Ann Arbor Pioneer at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Junior goalie Tiffany Elenbaas makes a save for the Rams during their game against Jenison. Photo by SHANNON OUELLETTE

Coach Voltz noted, “The rest of the schedule hinges on how we do in those first two games.”

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