Michigan Water Polo Association

Rams repeat as state water polo champs

November 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

The dynasty continues. Rockford entered the Michigan Water Polo Association state championships at West Zeeland, who was ranked fourth in the state, on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 12-13. But by the time the final whistle blew, the Rams were once again on top, claiming their second consecutive state championship, their seventh in eight years, and their eighth in 11 years. Four Rams received All State honors. Junior Bryan Wasberg and senior Jeff Schmitt were named second team All State, while junior Eric Chisholm and senior Pat Fase were named first team All State. In addition, Fase’s stellar goalie play throughout the weekend earned him a share of the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. “I’m so proud of every member of the team,” beamed Fase. “We had a small senior class to provide leadership, but it was the underclassmen, including the entire bench, who did the hard work it took to win the championship.” Rockford opened the tournament with a convincing 9-2 win against a scrappy team from Ann Arbor Pioneer. Six different Rams scored goals, including two each by Wasberg, Chisholm and junior Alex Savage. But it was the Ram defense, led by Chisholm with three steals, and Fase’s goaltending that made the difference. In the semifinals, Rockford squared off against the top ranked team in the state, Ann Arbor Huron. The River Rats feature the state’s top scorer, senior David Hasegan, the other co-MVP of the tournament. Rockford jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first period. But Huron, on the strength of two quick goals by Hasegan, stormed back to take the lead in the second. After a Rockford timeout, Chisholm drove to the net, took a pass from Savage, and flipped in an amazing no-look shot to tie the score. The next time down the pool, Chisholm found Schmitt open for a score that restored the Rockford lead. Huron scored three more goals, but Rockford answered each time, and hung on for an 8-7 victory. The story of the game was the team’s defense on Hasegan. Wasberg wrestled with him for most of the game, with Chisholm sprinting back on defense to help out, collecting five steals for his efforts. And when the defense didn’t hold, Fase made several brilliant stops […]

Rockford water polo achieves academic success

November 11, 2010 // 0 Comments

As they prepare to defend their state water polo title on November 12, thirteen Rockford Rams took time out to receive Academic All State honors from the Michigan Water Polo Association (MWPA). Eight of the honorees are juniors: Cody Brown, Nick Dulak, Mac Finnie, Allyn Kinney, Alex Savage, Matt Vermeer, Josh Waldvogel and Bryan Wasberg. Five are sophomores: Mike Arend, Trenten Babcock, Grant Beach, Corey Fase, and Nick Willison. “We are proud of our student-athletes at Rockford High School,” said Athletic Director Tim Erickson. “Notice the word ‘student’ precedes the word ‘athlete.’ That is our philosophy: student first. Coach McWatters and the water polo team provide a perfect example of this philosophy.” MWPA Academic All State athletes must have a 3.75 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) after completing at least a full year of high school. All 13 boys meet that benchmark; several of them with a GPA higher than 4.0. “We are very proud of the student participation rate in our Rockford High School athletic program,” noted Principal Dan Zang. “More important than the scoreboard, conference standings, and pursuit of state championships, however, is our students’ performance in the classroom. We are fortunate to have student-athletes who truly understand that classroom performance is more important than what happens in the playing arena. Having our coaches appreciate and value this perspective is vitally important as well.” Coach Dave McWatters agreed, “Half of our team is Academic All State! This achievement represents our greatest hope for these young men: that their experience as part of Rockford water polo will enrich their lives long after they graduate. These young men and others are able to respond to the demands of the sport and also achieve academic excellence. That will serve them well for years to come.”

Rams take second at water polo regional

November 4, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford moves on to defend state title  The Rockford boys water polo team claimed second place in the Michigan Water Polo Association (MWPA) West Regional championship held at East Kentwood High School last weekend. The Rams now move on to the MWPA state tournament, where they will need three wins against top opponents to repeat as state champions. Four Rams received All Region honors. Junior Bryan Wasberg received honorable mention, while junior Eric Chisholm, senior Jeff Schmitt and senior Pat Fase were named First Team All Region. Rockford opened the tournament Friday afternoon, Oct. 29, by trouncing an overmatched West Ottawa club 18-4. Ten different Rams scored goals, led by freshman Craig Wasberg with three. Rockford’s team defense, with junior Allyn Kinney leading the way, smothered the Panthers. Saturday morning, Oct. 30, the Rams faced Jenison in the semifinals. In a game eerily similar to their district match from a week earlier, the Rams once again found themselves up 4-3 in the waning moments of the first half. The Wildcats lined up for a penalty shot with just 35 seconds left in the half, but Ram goalie Pat Fase made the stop to preserve Rockford’s lead. Jenison didn’t threaten again. The Rams added two third-period goals and rode their defensive strength to a 6-3 victory. B. Wasberg and Jeff Schmitt led the scoring with two goals apiece. Wasberg and Chisholm each made three steals on defense. “Stopping a penalty shot involves a little luck,” admitted Fase after the game. “As the shooter wound up, I sensed he was aiming to my right. I just dove that way and was able to get a hand on the ball. If they had scored there, they would have had a lot of momentum going into the half, and it probably would have been a different game.” The regional finals provided a rematch of the district finals, with the Rams facing familiar foe East Kentwood, but this time in the Falcons’ pool. After a few tense, scoreless minutes, Chisholm took a pass from junior Alex Savage and found the back of the net to give the Rams a 1-0 lead. The Falcons answered immediately, however, setting the tone for a see-saw first half that ended with Rockford clinging to […]

Rams win seventh straight district water polo title

October 28, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford High School hosted the Michigan Water Polo Association (MWPA) West Region district championships last weekend, and the Rams emerged as West Region East District champs for the seventh straight year. Rockford has not lost a district game since the current postseason format was adopted by the MWPA in 2004.   The week began with Jenison visiting Rockford to play for the OK conference championship on Senior Night. Four Ram seniors, Pat Fase, Jared Martella, Jeff Schmitt and exchange student Victor Lima, were honored on this festive night. A highlight of the evening was a stirring a cappella rendition of the national anthem by junior goalie Matt Vermeer. The Wildcats came to town looking for a win and a share of the conference title. “We wanted to come out and play our best,” recalled Schmitt, “because we didn’t want to share the conference title with Jenison. I was especially pumped up knowing this was my last regular season home game.”   Schmitt’s energy resulted in two quick goals as Rockford sprinted to a 3-1 first period lead. Jenison closed the gap to 4-3 late in the second period before Schmitt and junior Eric Chisholm each scored in the final minute of the period to give the Rams a 6-3 halftime lead. But the game was too close for comfort, according to Schmitt. “We knew we needed to step it up in the second half, to focus on doing what we do best, and to have fun doing it.” Schmitt’s formula produced the desired results. The Rams exploded for six goals in the third quarter en route to a 14-3 victory and the outright conference championship—their 18th title in a row. Schmitt led all scorers with five goals; sophomore Nick Willison made five steals. The district tournament brought all West Michigan teams to Rockford High School for the weekend. Despite a sluggish start to their first game, the host Rams used their depth and strength to overpower East Grand Rapids 11-1. Junior Alex Savage led a stifling defensive effort, while Chisholm scored four goals. The district finals found the Rams facing rival East Kentwood in a game featuring the two best goalies in Michigan, Rockford senior Pat Fase and Kentwood junior Raheem Brown. Both teams came […]

Rockford water polo qualifies for state tournament

November 5, 2009 // 0 Comments

The first Saturday semifinal match pitted Rockford against a very strong East Kentwood squad. The Falcons kept the Rams off balance for most of the game, pulling away in the third period and holding on for a 5-2 victory. “We didn’t perform the way we’re capable of performing,” McWatters summed up, “and we were outplayed by a very good team.” The final challenge for the Rams was to regroup and take on the Grandville Bulldogs in the consolation match. The Rams scored three early goals, but Grandville answered each time. Grandville then pulled ahead in the second period and carried a two-goal lead into the fourth period. That’s when Rockford senior Derik Bothma put on a performance for the ages. “I took it personally,” said Bothma. “I didn’t want to see our team lose another game, and wanted to do everything I could to help us avoid that.” Bothma first found junior Jeff Schmitt open in front of the net for a goal that pulled the Rams within one and gave the team some much-needed hope. He then went on a scoring tear, putting the Rams ahead for good with a trio of spectacular shots. Rockford ended up on top 10-7. Bothma finished with five goals, and fellow senior Connor Thelen added two. In addition to a goal, Schmitt chipped in with four assists. Three Rams were honored at the end of the tournament. Junior Pat Fase and senior Kyle Peterson were named All Region second team. Bothma was named All Region first team. “We had an up-and-down weekend,” concluded Thelen, “but we ended strong. Now we want to carry that momentum on to state.”