The rain that fell in blinding sheets at times couldn’t wash away the disappointment on the faces of the Buccaneers’ varsity boys lacrosse players.
Grand Haven had its sights set on a deep run into the state tournament this spring. Instead, the Bucs fell to the rival Rams of Rockford, 14-7, on the soggy turf field at the DeVos Soccer Complex on the campus of Hope College on Tuesday in the semifinal round of the Division 1 regional tournament.
The Buccaneers, ranked No. 16 in the state by laxpower.com, had beaten Rockford twice during the regular season. But on Tuesday, it was the Rams who got the win when it mattered the most.
"We knew that the previous two games had nothing to do with tonight," said Bucs' coach Murle Greer, whose team finished with a 14-7 record.
Grand Haven got off to a fast start, leading 2-1, when thunder heard in the area caused the game to be postponed for 30 minutes.
After the delay, the Bucs made it 3-1 on a goal by Jake Vieau. But as the rain began to fall harder, the floodgates opened for the Rams, who poured in eight-straight goals. They stormed back from their 3-1 deficit to lead 4-3 at the end of the first quarter. That lead ballooned to 9-3 at halftime as every Rams’ shot seemed to find the back of the net.
"It's disappointing, but we had a great season," said Grand Haven senior Matt Mulcahy. "That delay was tough. We came out fired up, but it was hard to keep that going."
Rockford began to pull away thanks to a patient offensive attack that featured plenty of crisp passes that had the Bucs’ defense scrambling to keep up. The Rams worked the ball around and continually found open players in front of the Bucs' goal.
Kento Nakano, Zach Meeks and Kane Wolfer each scored four goals for Rockford, which will advance to the regional finals on Friday at Howell. The Rams will face South Lyon, which edged Detroit Catholic Central on Tuesday, 11-10.
While Rockford possessed the ball and made the extra pass, Grand Haven's offense became stagnant, especially in the disastrous second period, when Rockford outscored Grand Haven, 5-0. The Bucs, desperate to keep pace, abandoned their offensive philosophy as attackers began to try to make it happen on their own.
Rockford’s defense easily quieted these attacks, turning several Bucs’ turnovers into fast break chances at the other end.