“The first quarter we came out strong. We were fired up and sure about ourselves,” said the Bucs’ Elliot Karafa, a senior attack who scored the team’s final goal on Thursday. “Holding them to one goal was huge.”
“We had a big advantage coming in as underdogs with nothing to lose,” added senior defender Everett Ingalls.
But the Rams began to show why they own a spot in the state rankings, using superior stick skills and a deadly offensive attack to score 15 consecutive goals after the Bucs had grabbed their 2-0 lead.
Mitchell Newton scored three of those goals and assisted on four others, while Ryan Hartley also scored three goals for Rockford.
Junior Matt Burns scored the Bucs’ first goal less than a minute into the game, and Connor Davis followed that up with a goal of his own three minutes later.
A key point in the game came early in the second quarter. Grand Haven had a man advantage following a Rockford penalty, and the Bucs fired a shot that appeared to get by Rockford goalie Connor Flynn and into the net. The ball somehow stayed out, however, and the Rams rushed down the field, where they snuck a fluke shot in past Grand Haven’s RB Putnam, giving the Rams a 3-2 lead.
“This is always a big rivalry, and Rockford is probably the toughest team we play all year,” Karafa said.
“Conditioning was a big factor,” added Ingalls. “They have a lot of guys who can come in and go both ways.”
Putnam made several nice saves early in the contest, but let a few soft goals by and was eventually pulled from the game.