The waters of Michigan high school swimming pools are definitely heating up as teams throughout the state battle for playoff positioning. This was particularly evident at Rockford High School April 30 through May 1 as the Lady Rams hosted top contenders Okemos, Hudsonville, Jenison, Fenwick, East Kentwood, Ann Arbor Pioneer and Zeeland for the 2010 Rockford Varsity Water Polo Invitational.
The Rams took on the Jenison Wildcats in game one in what turned out to be a very close, down-to-the-wire, hard-fought battle. Rockford got off to a very strong start with two goals each from seniors Natalie Beeg and Holly Nauta. Jenison regrouped at half time, and narrowed the 4-1 gap to 4-3 at the end of the third period. In the fourth quarter, sophomore Casey Wolfer countered Jenison’s two goals to tie the game. With overtime looming, Wolfer found the net with seconds to spare on an assist from senior Ashley Gremel to win 6-5.
Rockford’s second game against Ann Arbor Pioneer took four periods plus overtime to settle the score, with the Rams winning 4-3 on a hard-fought goal from hole set Christina Weston. Junior goalie Tiffany Elenbaas was tough, stopping four goals in regulation and one crucial attempt in overtime. Gremel, Nauta and Wolfer scored the Rams’ regulation goals.
With two wins under their belt, Rockford then faced the state’s top contenders, Okemos and Hudsonville, respectively. Okemos’ size, impenetrable goalie with 21 saves, and Division I college-bound player were tough to conquer, and the Rams fell to Okemos 2-12.
The Rams concluded the tournament with a 5-9 loss to Hudsonville, after being tied up 5-5 at half time. Two goals came from junior Jamie VanPortfliet and one each from junior Lauren Hulsebus and seniors Gremel and Weston.
The Rams traveled to Hudsonville Tuesday, May 4 for a rematch, then return to Rockford on Thursday, May 6 for Senior Night against East Grand Rapids. Playoffs begin Friday, May 14-15, with East Grand Rapids hosting districts.