State tournament next up
On Friday, Oct. 28, the Rockford High School men’s water polo team continued their march to the state tournament by opening up with a victory against the Panthers of West Ottawa in the Michigan Water Polo Association Western Water Polo Regional. The contests were hosted at the East Kentwood natatorium. The Rams entered the tournament seeded number one in the region and number two in the entire state with a season record of 39-2.
Against the Panthers, the Rams jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Because Rockford has so much team depth, a total of 14 players got pool time, which kept fresh legs in the pool and gave excellent tournament experience. A total team effort produced a convincing 19-2 victory against the Panthers.
The victorious Rams next faced off against the host East Kentwood Falcons, who defeated Jenison in an exciting overtime victory.
The match against the Falcons was an intense defensive struggle, with the first score coming at the 1:40 mark left in the first period as senior Eric Chisholm found the net. At halftime the score was Rockford 3 the Falcons 0.
Ram goalie Corey Fase tends the net.
At the start of the third period, the Rams caught East Kentwood goalie Raheem Brown creeping out on junior Justin Hulsebus playing hole set. Sophomore Craig Wasberg fired from outside, finding the net as Brown committed to Hulsebus. Junior goalie Corey Fase played a flawless game in net for the Rams.
Facing off against All State goalie Brown, Fase said, “Raheem is a great player. Mentally I focus myself to play the best game I possibly can. As a team, when we face Brown, we realize what we are up against and we need to step up.”
The Rams rose to the challenge, coming away with an exciting 8-2 victory. The victory moved Rockford into the finals.
Rockford, ranked second in the state, faced off against fourth-ranked Hudsonville for the championship of the West Region. The Eagles are led by All State strong arm shooter Cody Brinks, while the Rams are led by All State multi-talented Chisholm. Hudsonville would have to match up against Rockford’s team depth.
In the contest, the Rams exploded in the first period for five goals and never let up. The Rams proved too much for the Eagles and swam away with the regional championship by defeating the Eagles 12-3.
This win improved the Rams’ record for the year to 42-2 and handed Rockford its first regional title since 2007. Tournament leaders for the Rams were Chisholm in goals, Wasberg in assists and Hulsebus in steals. Hulsebus and Chisholm were also selected as First Team recognition for the West Region. Chisholm gained further honors as he was also voted the most valuable player for the West Region tournament.
The Rams will travel to Saline High School for the state water polo championship, which takes place on the weekend of November 11.