Tracy Brown

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 […]

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 water polo thriller on historic night

October 7, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford topped East Kentwood 7-6 last Wednesday, Sept. 29, in a key conference clash that keeps the Rams on pace for their 18th consecutive conference title. This big win over a top rival was also the 500th victory in the storied career of Rockford Coach Dave McWatters.   East Kentwood gave the visiting Rams all they could handle, battling from the opening whistle to the final possession. Rockford junior Bryan Wasberg opened the scoring with a sizzling shot from the wing. The Falcons responded with two goals before Wasberg found sophomore teammate Nick Willison open just before the end of the first period. Willison beat the Falcon goalie to even the contest at 2-2. Kentwood outpaced Rockford in the second period, and took a 4-3 lead into halftime. The Rams answered in the third period with a brilliant effort. Smothering team defense completely shut down the Falcons. On the offensive end, freshman Craig Wasberg and senior Jeff Schmitt scored goals, giving Rockford a 5-4 lead heading into the fourth period. That’s when junior Eric Chisholm, who had been fighting for inside scoring position all night, finally found a way to break loose. He scored the first goal of the fourth quarter, giving the Rams a 6-4 cushion. But with the game winding down, East Kentwood battled back, closing the gap to 6-5. Would they be able to ride their home pool advantage to victory? Not this night. Just 15 seconds later, Chisholm notched his third goal of the game, pushing the lead to 7-5. East Kentwood scored again with one minute left in the game to pull within a single goal. But that was as close as they would come. With 25 seconds left, the Falcons’ leading scorer had the ball right in front of the Rockford net. But Schmitt and fellow senior goalie Pat Fase combined to make the defensive stop and save the game. “We’re focused on winning the conference this year, and it feels great to beat a strong Kentwood team in their own pool,” said Chisholm. “When we were down 4-3 at the half, we felt like we were still in the game. We’ve been down before and have been able to come back, so we knew we could do it […]

Rams take two water polo conference games

September 30, 2010 // 0 Comments

The Rockford boys water polo team hosted two conference foes last week, defeating each with an impressive display of team balance and depth. At the midway point of the season, the Rams’ record stands at 19-5 overall; 3-0 in the conference. Grandville came to town Monday, Sept. 20, hoping to defeat the Rams in conference play for the second straight year. The Bulldogs won a close game against Rockford last year, causing the two teams to split the conference crown. Rockford was ready for the Bulldogs this year, jumping to a 6-0 first-quarter lead, thanks to crisp ball movement and precise shooting. The Rams then battled Grandville goal-for-goal, cruising to 16-9 victory. Eight different Rockford players scored goals, led by senior Jeff Schmitt with four. Wednesday night, Sept. 22, brought the West Ottawa Panthers to the Rockford pool. Again Rockford sped to an early lead and never looked back, finishing with an 18-8 victory. Ten different Rams scored goals; sophomore Nick Willison was the leader with three. Aggressive defense captured 29 steals, including five by junior Alex Savage. In these two games, the Rams displayed an unselfish team-oriented approach to the game. Of the 34 goals scored, 25 were the result of assists. “We are a much better team than we were just two weeks ago,” observed Coach Dave McWatters. “There are many more challenges to go, but the pieces are coming together. Our individual athletes are figuring out how to lift one another’s quality of play. In other words, we are figuring out the elusive art of great team play.” “We get along well together as a team,” said Jared Martella, one of the team’s senior leaders. “There are no divisions between the different grade levels. We play well together no matter who’s in the pool, and we work to keep a positive attitude in the locker room.” Over the weekend, Rockford finished third at Zeeland’s Bird House Bash Invitational. Stout defense and balanced scoring produced big wins against Hudsonville (11-0), West Ottawa (13-0), and Zeeland (14-3). But Saturday morning the Rams lost a 6-5 overtime match to Birmingham Groves, the number four team in the state. Throughout the week, opposing teams had to contend with Rockford’s deep and talented bench. “Some teams depend […]

Rockford water polo opens conference play with win

September 23, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford’s boys water polo team began defense of their OK conference crown last Wednesday, Sept. 15, with a convincing win over Zeeland. The Rams have won or shared the conference championship for the past 17 years, longer than most of this year’s players have been alive! The team traveled to Zeeland to square off against a strong, fast, senior-led Zeeland squad, who was ranked eighth in the state. After a slow first quarter, Rockford opened the second with two quick goals. The Rams pushed the score to 5-2 at the half and held on for a 7-4 victory. Senior captain Jeff Schmitt set the defensive tone, recording four of the team’s 19 steals. Juniors Bryan Wasberg and Eric Chisholm led the scoring with two goals each. “I was very pleased with our team’s performance,” said Coach Dave McWatters. “We practiced hard the two days before the game, preparing for our long-term goals, so we were very tired for the Zeeland game. Zeeland is a very talented team, but we were able to tough out the win under challenging circumstances—another step forward.” “Going into the game, we knew we had to focus on doing what we do best,” said Schmitt. “We feel good about the way we played and about the results.” Over the weekend, Sept. 17-18, Rockford entered East Kentwood’s Falcon Invite, which found them in a bracket that featured four of the top five teams in the state. Friday night, Rockford—ranked second in the state—renewed their rivalry against East Kentwood—ranked fourth in the state. Rockford scored early and often, and displayed a suffocating defense. The result was an impressive 10-4 Ram victory. Ball movement was a key to the Ram scoring, with their 10 goals—including three each by Schmitt and Chisholm—coming on eight assists, including four by Wasberg. “We really wanted to beat East Kentwood this week, and were able to do so with a total team effort,” noted Schmitt. Saturday morning found the top two teams in the state, undefeated Ann Arbor Huron and Rockford, locked up in a nail-biter. The teams were tied at the half, but Huron opened the second half with two goals. Rockford responded with three of their own, and carried a 6-5 advantage into the fourth quarter. But […]

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