Rockford High School Boys Water Polo

Rockford boys water polo takes sixth state championship in seven years

November 18, 2009 // 0 Comments

Rockford finished a storybook season with a thrilling 11-10 victory over East Kentwood to capture the 2009 Michigan Water Polo Association (MWPA) boys state championship. The Rams (30-12) won their sixth state championship in seven years with an exceptional display of teamwork. From the beginning of the season to the last goal of the title game, the 2009 Rams were an unselfish unit, each player doing whatever was needed to help the team win. The team’s five captains, seniors Derik Bothma, Tyler Manikowski, Kyle Peterson and Connor Thelen, and junior Pat Fase were overjoyed after the game. They spoke with one voice about the team’s success: “This weekend was about teamwork and about heart. We came determined to give everything we had. And every time we needed something to happen, a different teammate stepped up.”  Teams and fans from around the state gathered at Birmingham’s Seaholm High School as the tournament opened Friday afternoon, Nov. 13. Rockford faced preseason MWPA favorite Birmingham Groves in a defensive struggle punctuated with timely scoring. The Rams held on for a 6-4 victory. Rugged team defense and junior Jeff Schmitt’s game-high four goals moved Rockford on to the semifinals. The Rams’ semifinal opponent was last year’s state champ, Ann Arbor Huron. Huron’s high-powered offense found a way to score against Rockford’s defense. But the Rams showed some firepower of their own, finishing with a 13-9 victory, led by five goals from Bothma and four from sophomore Eric Chisholm. Fase’s 21 saves in the goal sealed the victory. The final game Saturday evening, Nov. 14, pitted Rockford against rival East Kentwood. For the third game in a row, Schmitt and sophomore Bryan Wasberg jumpstarted the offense, giving the Rams the early lead. But the high-scoring Falcons fought back. They tied the score in the third period and took a two-goal lead in the fourth period. That’s when the Rams showed the character of champions. They tightened up their defense while Schmitt scored three quick goals at the other end to give Rockford the lead. Kentwood answered again, knotting the score at 10-10. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Rockford’s top scorer Bothma rose up high out of the water with ball in hand. Everyone in the natatorium […]