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Prep Roundup: Grand Haven girls water polo fights the learning curve

Tribune Staff • Mar 25, 2017 at 1:11 AM

The Grand Haven girls water polo team once again finds themselves on the underside of a learning curve to start their season.

With a majority of the team learning the sport from scratch, it has been a frustrating beginning to the 2017 campaign.

The Buccaneers host the Shootout at the Shore tournament at home this weekend and kicked off their run with an O-K Red Conference opponent in Grandville, dropping to the Bulldogs, 12-2.

“We are working to deal with our frustration right now,” said Grand Haven head coach Jeff Ledger. “Even if we are losing, if we can learn something from each loss, we are making progress.”

The Bucs hung with Grandville for the first few minutes of the opening quarter, before giving up four goals in the final three minutes.

A Stalwart Bulldogs defense kept the Bucs off the scoreboard until late in the third quarter when Grand Haven netted a six-on-five goal via an outside shot.

The Bulldogs continued to score uninhibited, but Grand Haven did grab another goal in the fourth quarter on a rip from five-meters following their first sprint win of the day.

“It is a good group of girls,” Ledger said. “They are fun to be around and a joy to coach. That makes it fun.”

The polo team will continue to try and learn from each game with an end season goal of advancing into the second day of the district tournament.

“Every team’s goal is the state tournament,” Ledger said. “But, we are taking it one step at a time, we don’t want it to take ten years before we get there, but we just want to make it out of the first day of districts.”

GH girls soccer plays to scoreless draw

The Grand Haven girls soccer team slugged their way through a defensive battle against visiting Hudsonville Unity Christian on Friday.

The host Buccaneers kept the Crusaders at bay for the majority of the contest, but could only muster a few limited scoring chances on the attack. The result was a 0-0 tie between the two competitors.

“Unity is always an amazing competitor,” said first-year Grand Haven head coach Yvonne McKessy. “The way they move the ball so quickly is impressive, and their technical work is so good. Tonight was definitely a test for our defense. We could not get through their defense, and they really couldn’t get through ours, either.

“We’re thrilled with the steady improvement we’ve shown in just these first few games, and we feel really good about the momentum we’re starting to build.”

The young Buccaneers squad is learning on the fly this spring, and the team is picking up the teaching points as the games go on.

“We made some adjustments with our positioning that helped us create a few chances, but not every team we go up against is going to have an amazing defense like that,” McKessy added. “The girls were really excited that they saw some successes out there.

“Today was about understanding how to work the midfield. In the first half, our attacking midfielder was hanging too far back, so she was right on top of the other mid. Once we changed that up, it really helped with our spaces and created fewer holes in our formation.

“These girls work so hard, and we make a couple small adjustments on the fly, and they pick it up so quickly. I’m challenging them to take on new things that they’ve never learned yet, and they are doing such a great job with it.”

McKessy saw steady improvements across the board, but a few efforts stood out on the field Friday night.

“Stephanie Thompson was great tonight,” McKessy continued. “She never wavered, and she was a constant strength for us. Jordan (Ellingboe) was on fire back there at her keeper spot. Her calm strength goes right through the defense, and really keeps the whole team level-headed.

“Lexi (Veeristra) was solid on the outside. She just gets the job done. Madi (Steggles) worked so hard out there to cause mistakes by them, and we capitalized on those.

“Alli Keyser is always a workhorse. We couldn’t get it up to her enough to let her work. She has an amazing attitude out there and Summer (DeWitt), as well. She keeps working and never complains. These girls are finding their rhythm out there, and I’m excited to watch them continue to grow.”

The Buccaneers travel to take on Reeths-Puffer on Tuesday.

SL boys lax falls to Hudsonville

The Spring Lake boys lacrosse team opened its season against Hudsonville on Thursday night.

After jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, the Lakers were outscored by the Eagles, 9-1 the rest of the way, falling to Hudsonville, 9-3.

The Lakers opened up by scoring the first two goals of the game by Dominic Molotky and Isaiah Griswold. The Eagles then opened up their transition game, scoring three goals in each of the last three quarters.

Griswold netted his second goal of the night in the fourth quarter with an assist from Molotky. Brant Verlinde made 11 saves on the evening and Noah Verlinde and Keegan O'Donnell each created a forced takeaway. Nate Nass led the Lakers in ground balls on the night with four.

Junior varsity: Spring Lake defeated Hudsonville, 4-3. Scoring for the Lakers were Noah Locascio (2), Sean Carrns and Joe Duell.

The Lakers travel to Portage Central today to play the Mustangs. The junior varsity squad plays at 11 a.m., followed by the varsity game at 12:30 p.m.

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