On Tuesday, April 18th, two in-state lacrosse powerhouses took the field at Ted Carlson Memorial stadium in a clash of two top-five ranked teams. The Rams entered as the fourth ranked team in the State while the visiting Pioneers of East Grand Rapids took the field ranked number one. The intensity was at an all-time high for a lacrosse game at the Ted, with the crowd seemingly growing in both attendance and volume as the game proceeded.
The Pioneers scored the first goal of the game, but that one goal lead would be the only time they led all game, as Rockford took a 6-2 lead into halftime and eventually came away with the 8-7 victory.
Ty DeGraaf, Connor Gillis, and Cam Kostus all scored two goals to lead the Rams, while Brian Bera and Ian Rodriguez rounded out the night with one goal apiece.
Rockford knew what type of talent they were up against, and with a 6-0 record on the line, preparation was imperative for the Rams.
“We watched film on them for a while, as well as a scouting report which was very helpful. Knowing what we were going up against was something we took advantage of. We had a strict game plan that we needed to follow in order to win, and I believe we did a great job of following that plan,” said junior Ty DeGraaf.
Tuesday’s win over East Grand Rapids was just the fifth in program history as the Rockford defense held the potent Pioneer offense ten goals below their season average. It was a full team effort from the offense, defense, and an engaged sideline.
Junior face-off man Cole Scheffler absolutely dominated his role on Tuesday night, giving his offensive teammates possessions that turned out to be both lengthy and lethal against a stingy Pioneer zone defense.
“Having a faceoff man like Cole is very calming for a coach. It’s great to know that you’ll be starting with possession almost every time. The team knows it too. When you can consistently win face-offs, it makes the team more confident no matter the game circumstances,” said Head Coach Mike DeWitt.
Even with the victory Tuesday over East Grand Rapids, Coach DeWitt still sees room for improvement and growth the rest of the season.
“There’s still a lot to work on. This is only one game in a long season. We were up 6-2 at half and EGR had a chance to tie it at the end. Obviously we want to work on extending that lead. The team played their hearts out for 48 minutes, no question about it. Now it’s about executing properly for all 48 minutes. Once we get there we’ll be where we want to be.”
Rockford also claimed victories over Spring Lake and Midland in the games prior to East Grand Rapids. Senior Nate Anderson led the Rams with a hat trick against the Lakers. Junior Cam Kostus and Senior Connor Gillis both piled in four goals to down Midland on April 15th.
The Undefeated Rams will travel to West Ottawa on Friday April 28 and to Brighton on Saturday, April 29. Team 20’s next home game will be Tuesday, May 2 against Forest Hills Eastern.