Rockford water polo defeats Zeeland, leads region

Rockford senior Jamie VanPortfliet wins the sprint at the start of the Grandville game on Senior Night, Thursday, May 5.

Rockford girls varsity water polo continued their strong showing in the region on Tuesday, May 3, by defeating the combined team from Zeeland East/West high schools by a score of 8-4. The contest, hosted in Zeeland’s beautiful aquatic center, saw the Rams slowly and consistently score goals and put the game out of reach early on.

Senior Jamie VanPortfliet assisted sophomore Adrianna Craft on the night’s first goal, followed by junior Casey Wolfer zinging a solo shot into the net to end the first quarter with the visiting Rams up 2-0.

The second period provided some early excitement with two consecutive alley-oop passes from senior Lauren Hulsebus to senior Jamie Fase, each scoring. These goals came off offensive plays that were run to perfection, showing the constant improvement by the team. Senior Erica Finlayson followed up with two goals of her own, one of which was assisted by a beautiful pass from VanPortfliet, and one solo shot that quickly found the back of the net. Zeeland found the cage late in the half, and the Rams led 4-1 at the break.

The second half started with an Abby Finlayson goal and was followed by a Wolfer goal assisted by junior Maddie Levine. Zeeland ended the quarter with a “hail mary” buzzer beater, and managed a couple more goals late in the fourth, but it was too little too late for the host team.

On Senior Night, May 5, senior Kaitlyn Cress looks to pass during her final home game as a Lady Ram.

Hulsebus and Fase ended the night leading in assists with two apiece, and both of these seniors had four steals to lead that category. Senior goalie Tiffany Elenbaas had eight saves in the win.

Head Coach Scott Voltz stated after the game, “Zeeland is in first place in their district. Any time you can grab a win against a district-leading team, it’s a good night.”

Thursday, the Rams wrapped up the conference championship by defending rival Hudsonville 6-4 at home. The night began with the introduction of this year’s seniors. Girls playing their final season for Rockford include co-captains Taylor Downs, Sloan Ouellette and Tiffany Elenbaas, as well as Erica Finlayson, Brandy Fase, Kaitlin Cress, Lauren Hulsebus and Jamie VanPortfliet. Coach Voltz was very complimentary to these girls for their leadership and tenacious play in the pool.

As is usually the case, the Eagles of Hudsonville played a well-fought game against the home team, but Rockford’s hard-pressed defense was too much to overcome. Offensively, the first goal of the night was scored by Wolfer on a five-meter penalty shot. Hudsonville followed with a five-meter shot of their own with time expired to end the quarter in a 1-1 deadlock.

Brandy Fase scored in the second quarter on an assist by VanPortfliet, and Wolfer sent two more rockets into the back of the net to put the Rams up 4-1 at the half. Wolfer and Fase each managed to score in the second half, and the Eagles scored three goals late in the game after a win was already out of reach.

Sophomore Ellie Raymond, who started the night in goal, showed her bright future at that position by only allowing one goal and having three saves. Elenbaas also had three saves of her own on the night.

The Rams enter district play at Jenison this weekend, May 13-14.



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