The Rockford Mens varsity water polo team started the season August 10 as defending state champs and in search of their third straight Division 1 State championship. Although the regular season doesn’t start until September 12th, Coach Haga has the boys scheduled for weekend tournaments every week to get them ready for a run at another title. They start the season with just three seniors after losing 13 seniors from last years championship team.
The tournament schedule started with Rockford hosting teams from around the state and even a tough team from Chicago. On Friday, August 10th, Rockford started the year by defeating Grand Blanc 15-8. Leading the scoring were the 3 senior captains; Gavin Saur with 4 goals, Zach Burns with 4 goals and Kyle Arend with 3 goals. Juniors Elijah Chino and Kyle Dedert each had one goal, Sophomore Brendan Saur had one goal and Freshman Nate Cheney also had one goal. Leading the defense were Gavin Saur and Zach Burns with 3 steals each. Elijah Chino, Kyle Dedert, Kyle Arend, and Freshman Christian Wagen each had 2 steals. Brenden Saur, Juniors Brendan Chaudoir and Matt Weber each had 1 steal. Leading the team in Assists was Elijah Chino with 6.
Saturday brought 3 more games. Game 1 saw Rockford defeat Dexter 12-7. Leading the scoring was Zach Burns with 3 goals. Kyle Arend, Elijah Chino and Brenden Saur each had 2 goals. Gavin Saur, Kyle Dedert and Junior Nick Deugaw each had one goal. Leading the Defense was Zach Burns, Nick Deugaw, Kyle Dedert and Elijah Chino with 3 steals each. Kyle Arend, Gavin Saur and Brendan Saur each had 2 steals and Nate Cheney, Freshman Nolan Graalman, and Sophomore Nate Hopkins each had 1 steal in a game that saw Rockford with a total of 22 steals.
Game 2 saw Rockford vs. Okemos in a rematch of the last two state champions games. With a couple of Okemos starters out, Rockford easily took care of Okemos, 16-5. Leading the scoring was Gavin Saur and Elijah Chino each with 4 goals. Sophomore Cade Doer had 3 goals. Zach Burns and Sophomore Hudson VerWys each had 2 goals and Nate Hopkins had 1 goal. Leading the defense with 2 steals each was Junior Trey Williams, Elijah Chino, Gavin Saur, Nate Hopkins, and Matt Weber. Kyle Arend, Kyle Dedert, Nick Deugaw, and Zach Burns each had 1 steal.
The last game of the day proved to be the most exciting with Rockford taking on Chicago Park District.
With the game ending in a 9-9 tie, they heading to a 5 man shoot out that took 3 rounds to eventually end with a 19-18 win for Rockford. Seniors Kyle Arend, Gavin Saur and Zach Burns each scored in all 3 of the shoot out rounds. Leading the total scoring was Elijah Chino with 6 goals. Kyle Arend with 5 goals, Zach Burns with 4 goals. Gavin Saur with 3 goals and Hudson VerWys with1 goal. Leading the team in steals was: Zach Burns with 4, Kyle Arend with 3, Gavin Saur with 2, and Elijah Chino and Brendan Saur with 1. Junior Goalie Ben Schuchardt had an impressive 17 saves in the win including a stellar performance in the shoot out.
The weekend of 8-17,18 had Rockford traveling to Ann Arbor for the next tournament. On 8-17, Rockford started the tournament with an easy 13-1 victory over Kilbourne.
Leading the scoring was Kyle Dedert and Zach Burns with 3 goals each. Gavin Saur had 2 goals and Kyle Arend, Elijah Chino, Brendan Saur, Brendan Chaudoir and Matt Weber each adding 1 goal. Leading the defense was Gavin Saur with 4 steals, Trey Williams, Kyle Dedert, Nick Deugaw and Brendan Saur with 3 steals, Hudson VerWys and Matt Weber with 2 steals, and Nate Cheney, Nolan Graalman, and Brendan Chaudoir with 1 steal each for a team total of 28. Hudson VerWys lead the team with 3 assists.
Saturday started with Rockford defeating Dexter 10-6 in the first of three games that day. Leading the scoring was Gavin Saur with 6 goals. Elijah Chino had 2 goals and Kyle Arend and Zach Burns each had 1 goal. Leading the team in steals was Gavin Saur with 3, Zach Burns and Kyle Dedert with 2, Goalie Ben Schuchardt, Kyle Arend, Elijah Chino, Brendan Saur, Matt Weber and Bodie Mitchell each had 1 steal. Goalie Ben Schuchardt ended the game with 7 saves.
Game two saw Rockford defeat Upper Arlington 7-1. Leading the scoring was Zach Burns and Elijah Chino each with 2 goals. Kyle Arend, Gavin Saur and Brendan Saur each added 1 goal. The defense was led by Gavin Saur with 5 steals. Kyle Arend and Elijah Chino each had 3 steals, Brendan Saur had 2 steals and Hudson VerWys and Kyle Dedert had 1 steal each.
Game three had Rockford taking on Okemos. Unlike the previous week, Okemos had all of their starters. As in most Rockford Okemos games, this one ended in a 8-8 tie. Instead of a Shoot out however, this game moved to overtime. The game ended quickly though as Senior co-captain Zach Burns scored to give Rockford the victory 9-8. Leading the scoring was Zach Burns with 3 goals, including the game winner. Gavin Saur with 2 goals. Kyle Arend, Elijah Chino and Kyle Dedert each had 1 goal.
Leading the defense was Gavin Saur with 2 steals. Elijah Chino, Kyle Dedert, Brendan Saur and Zach Burns each had 1 steal. Junior Goalie Ben Schuchardt had 10 saves in the victory.