Rockford men’s water polo continued its memorable season by defeating the visiting Grand Haven Buccaneers 10-4 Monday. The Rams remain unbeaten in dual contests and tournament play. In the first period the Rams used a balanced attack with excellent ball movement as four different Rockford swimmers scored as Rockford jumped to a 4-1 lead. The highlight of the period came as senior Nick Willison threaded a nice pass to senior Mike Arend who put it between the pipes with a shovel shot. The second period was accented by two plays. At the 3-minute mark sophomore David Newberger received a perfect pass from Arend into the seam in the defense and found the net. The second highlight occurred as time ran out. Senior Justin Hulsebus fired a shot from 3/4 pool length as the buzzer sounded and hit the net. In the second half of the contest the highlight was junior Stephen Cress stealing the ball in Rockford’s end of the pool swimming the length to the Buc end and putting it in the net. Game leaders were Cress with 3 goals, Willison with 6 steals and Arend with 3 assists. The number one rated Rockford record improved to 28-0.
On the weekend the Rams co-hosted the Rockford/East Grand Rapids Water Polo Invitational pitting 12 teams from around the state at two sites. Rockford opened up Friday night against Birmingham Groves. In the first period 6 different Rams hit the net lead by Arend’s 3 goals and junior Jake Davis’s two. For the game, 10 different Ram players scored goals, an indication of the intelligent play and excellent ball movement of the team. Junior Chris Lemoine had a memorable game scoring two goals. In the second half, senior goal tender Corey Fase was replaced between the posts by his freshman brother Jacob. Corey went in to play the field and scored his first goal of the season with a strong hole set shot. The Rams dominated Groves swimming to a 16-0 shutout. Later on Friday night the Rams faced off against the Grandville Bulldogs. Rockford continued to overpower opponents as 9 seconds into the game senior hole setter Grant Beach was on the receiving end of a perfect pass from Justin Hulsebus and found the net. Beach would go on to score 4 goals in 3 periods of play. Hulsebus would add 2, Arend 2, Willison 2, Davis 2, and Stephen Cress 2. Rockford would come out on top of the Bulldogs 16-4.
Saturday Rockford first faced off against Ann Arbor Pioneer. The first quarter was a tight game as the Pioneers played tough tight defense. The quarter ended with the Rams up 2-0. During the second period Rockford opened up the game and pulled away. The Rams were paced in the first half by seniors. Beach put in 2, Arend 2, and Willison 2. Davis and Patino each added one as Rockford ended the first half leading 8-1. Rockford continued its success in the second half and came away with a 13-2 victory.
In the championship match-up the Rams went up against the Eagles of Hudsonville. Once again a balanced attack knocked the Eagles on their heels; in the first period 5 different Rams put it between the pipes. The quarter was marked with excellent passing and ball movement by the home pool Rams who hustled to a 6-1 lead at the end of the quarter. The Rams played with passion and stretched the lead to 8-2 at half. When the buzzer sounded at the end of the contest the Rams had once again bested Hudsonville coming away with an 11-3 victory and capturing the tournament title. Weekend leaders were Grant Beach with 10 goals; Jacob Davis with 9, while Nick Willison demonstrated his balanced skills by leading in assists with 10 and steals with 7. Goal keep Corey Fase had 33 stops for the two days. The Rams remain perfect with an impressive 32-0 record.