By DEBORAH VANDYKE
Rockford’s junior varsity men’s water polo team played their second tournament of the season in Jenison on August 23 and 24. Sophomore Jason Vickery scored the first goal, establishing the tone for the entire tournament. Team co-captain Alec Cutler and sophomore Sam Sikkema were the high scorers with five goals each. Co-captain sophomore Christian Williams blocked eight goal attempts, and Jacob Vickery and Alec Cutler each stole the ball three times.
The next game was against Ann Arbor Pioneer. Rockford won 14-6. The highlight of this game was the third quarter when Jacob Vickery landed a backhand shot to score one of his five goals of the game. Christian Williams blocked nine goal attempts. Freshman Adam Kapp stole the ball an impressive five times.
The third game pitted Rockford against Zeeland. Alec Cutler was the high scorer of the game, showing his teammates nine different ways to put the ball into the net. Adam Kapp stole the ball again and scored his second goal of the game. Christian Williams stopped seven of Zeeland’s goal attempts. Rockford won 19-6.
Rockford beat Hudsonville 15-9 for their last game of this tournament. Jack Dorer and Israel Chino were high scorers with 3 goals each, while Adam Kapp stole the ball another five times. Christian Williams stopped the opponents from scoring 12 times.
When asked for comments about the tournament, Christian Williams replied, “It’s good to work hard because along the way you’ll learn new techniques and become a better player.”
Alec Cutler added, “It was fun helping out the freshmen, this being the first game for most of them.”
Coach Craig Peterman responded, “It was a great weekend! Everyone got a lot of playing time. It was great to see everyone apply the skills from the first full week of practice to this tournament. It was good to get the first-time players in the game, even though they were a little nervous.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, August 23, Rockford’s nineteen varsity players traveled to Ann Arbor for the Early Bird Tournament. Friday evening’s game was against Kilborne, a team from Ohio. Junior Ben Hoffmeister led the team with three goals. Junior Tyler Willison provided three assists. Senior Milos Ciric and junior Brent Trewhella each had four steals during the game. RHS won 16-1.
Saturday morning’s game was against another team from Ohio. RHS met St. Charles for the first time this season and handed them a 13-2 loss. Showing Rockford’s diversity and depth of talent, four different players each had two goals. Senior Stephan Cress had three assists. Senior captain Reese Patino and Ben Hoffmeister each had five steals.
The third game of the weekend determined the participants for final game of the evening, and RHS played Ann Arbor Pioneer for the second time this season. Again, RHS dominated and won 10-1. Stephan Cress topped the scoring leaders with three goals, while sophomore Jacob Fase stole the ball five times.
The final game came down to Rockford versus its rival team, Ann Arbor Huron, the River Rats. It was a strong, very physical game, but the Rams charged ahead with an 8-6 victory over the Rats. Stephan Cress, once again showing his senior leadership, netted three goals. Junior David Newberger was key to the victory with three steals.
Senior captain goalie, Kyle Hams, had a total of 26 saves during the weekend. Kyle shared a few words about the weekend, “I thought it was cool to play Ohio teams, to see what they had to offer. We played well as a team this weekend. We struggled last week with our defense, so we worked hard this week. We had much better defensive games this weekend.”
Coach David McWatters spoke briefly after the Huron game, “We are very proud of our 8-0 weekend (JV 4-0 and Varsity 4-0,) but Monday morning, we are back in the pool, and our record resets to 0-0.”
The Rams have next weekend off for Labor Day and will be back in action the following weekend. The junior varsity team will travel to East Kentwood, and the varsity team will compete in “Shoot Out at the Shore” at Grand Haven/West Ottawa.