by Deborah VanDyke and Heidi Willison
Zeeland hosted the junior varsity tournament on September 13 and 14, and the Rams continued their streak of domination. The first game pitted the Rams against Hudsonville Yellow, and the Rams crushed them with a 16-6 win. Stealing was the highlight of game two. The Rams stole 15 balls and won 13-6. For the third game, Rockford lent four of its starters to the Grand Haven team. This forced Rockford to play deeper into its talent pool, and the younger team members were able to implement the evasive maneuvers, ball stealing techniques, and skip shots they have been practicing. Sophomore Sam Sikkema made an outstanding backhand shot under heavy pressure from his opponents and also landed a second-quarter long shot on the buzzer. Rockford beat Grand Haven, 16-12, and also won their final game against East Kentwood, 16-6.
Sam Sikkema was the leading scorer for the weekend with 15 goals. Sophomore Jacob Vickery stole the ball 12 times. Sophomore and team captain Christian Williams made 26 saves and commented on the tournament, “It was a good experience to have some of our starters play for Grand Haven today. It helps us realize how essential every player is. That game was a challenge, and some of our non-starters learned what it is like to play as a starter.”
Rock Polo graduate and new coach for JV, Bryan Wasberg also shared his insight, “It was good getting everyone in the water. Some guys who don’t usually get much time were able to play a lot longer this weekend. It was a great overall team win. It was good to see where our strengths and weaknesses are, get everyone in the pool, and work different lineups.”
East Kentwood hosted the varsity tournament for the weekend, and Friday the 13th proved to be lucky for the Rams. In their first game of tournament play, the Rams worked through a defensive struggle to prevail over Jenison 8-3. Their next opponents were the Chiefs of Okemos, where the Rams displayed a new reliance on their passing game and won 13-3. On Saturday, the Rams met a very young and inexperienced team of Battle Creek. Instead of their usual goalies, Coach Dave McWatters placed non-goalies into the net for the Rams. Field players and seniors Jacob Davis, Reese Patino, Milos Ciric, and Jacob Brown combined their efforts for a shut out in the net and a 19-0 win over the Battle Creek team. In the final championship game, the Rams met the host team, the East Kentwood Falcons. The Rams dominated the Falcons in a fast paced, bench deep, stealing frenzy and won 18 to 2.
Topping the assist chart this weekend was senior Stephan Cress with six. Senior exchange student, Milos Ciric, was the high point netter with six goals. With quick hands and speed, junior Nick Hansen stole the ball five times during the four games. After the tournament, Milos Ciric stated, “It was a great weekend where everyone had their time to play. We played great as a team. Starters and bench did great too. We are looking forward to the start of our Conference games, and we hope to keep this going.”
Head coach Dave McWatters reflected upon the weekend, “This weekend we concentrated on our team passing. We are not quite there yet, but we have had glimpses of where we want to be. Once again both our junior varsity and varsity teams went undefeated 4-0 each, but we keep trying to improve quarter by quarter, game by game.” The Rams begin their conference play this week with Rockford at Jenison on Wednesday, September 18. Then, on the weekend of September 20, the varsity team travels to Birmingham while the junior varsity team travels to West Ottawa for more tournaments.