The Bucs fell to Ann Arbor Huron, 15-7 and will continue to play in the consolation ladder today.
“We ran up against a team that plays a different style of water polo, very aggressive, very physical and the referees let them play outside the rule book,” Grand Haven coach Bill Hamm said of the game. “Our guys did not stay composed and did not run our offense.”
Grand Haven was able to run with Huron in the first quarter. They exploded out of the gate, netting their first foal less than 30 seconds into the game, courtesy of Grant Ruster.
After giving up a man-down goal, the Bucs had to even the score, drawing a kick out of their own on Huron. Reilly Wisniewski ripped a shot into the back of the net, putting Grand Haven up, 2-1.
Power plays for the remainder of the period were all Grand Haven, regardless of who had the extra man. Mason Fritz was sent to the corner, giving Huron a chance to tie the game before Ruster executed a mid-pool steal and textbook wet shot to stretch their lead to two.
The Bucs continued to handle Huron on defense, killing another power-play before Fritz sent home a solo shot to end the period, 4-1.
The second quarter saw an increase of physicality and Grand Haven did not respond well.
“We were not controlling the ball in midcourt and we weren’t pushing it up the sides,” Hamm said.
The quarter opened with a double exclusion, both Ruster and his Huron defender were penalized for rough play. That summed up the rest of the game, Huron playing physical and Grand Haven paying the price.
The Bucs failed to find the net in the second period, while Huron lit up the net. The game went to intermission with Grand Haven trailing, 7-4.
Fritz and Joshua Koornneef led the charge in the third, trading goals with Huron, keeping the Bucs in with a shout. Fritz struck first for Grand Haven, netting a free shot. Ann Arbor answered with a goal before Koornneef had one of his own, setting the score, 9-6.
Huron netted three straight goals to pull away in the third quarter. Fritz, taking the game into his own hands scored the Bucs final goal with three minutes remaining in the third.
Just one goal was scored by Huron’s second-line in the fourth quarter, finalizing the game, 15-7.
The loss does not end Grand Haven’s weekend, merely their title hopes. The consolation tournament determines overall places from third through eighth. Today, The Bucs will face off with Zeeland for the third time this postseason; they split the first two meetings.
A win against the united West/East team will send Grand Haven to the fifth/sixth place game; a loss will throw them into contention for last place.
“We were in the same boat last year,” Hamm said of today’s slate. “We lost to the champion then played some great games on Saturday. We have to come out tomorrow and have some great games and win the consolation final.
“We have another whole tournament to play tomorrow, not the one we wanted, but it’s a whole new tournament.”
Grand Haven vs. Zeeland will be played at 9:15 a.m. today at Hudsonville High School.