By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dexter Dreadnaught Water Polo team, 14-1 (1-0), won their district opener against the Ann Arbor Huron River Rats by a final score of 15-5, blowing out the River Rats on Sept. 11.
After a fifth-place finish at the state tournament and going into this year with a roster compiled of only upperclassmen with lots of varsity experience, the Dreads have big goals for this season.
“They believe they can achieve great things this season,” said Dread head coach Brian Semple, entering his 15th year as a head coach. “Our goal going into the season was a state championship. Right now, several teams in the state are really good, and we’d put ourselves in that group. We’re just looking to work and build.”
Early on, Semple said he’s seen resiliency and heart from this team, citing this past weekends’ tournament in Ohio that had them face off against a team in the championship from Ohio with fans cheering loudly for their opponent.
Down by two with 1:40 with left, they tied it, and almost won in regulation before pulling out the win in overtime.
Conditioning was a focus this offseason and Semple told The Sun Times about the difference in this years’ squad.
“Now, their mindset is we want to go out and (out) swim teams,” said Semple. “That wasn’t our forte last year, it was half-court offense, setting it up. Now, it’s more lets out hustle, outwork, and wear teams down. (Out) swim them for all four quarters.”
The Dreads did just that against the River Rats, jumping out to a 4-0 first-quarter lead and 7-0 first-half lead that saw the Dreads score on a lot of transition opportunities and River Rat penalties.
Goals were scored by junior Leo Varitek (6), junior Sam Sterlitz (4), senior captain Luke Sayler, senior captain Jack Blodgett (2), junior Ben Duncan, and senior captain Paul Schaefer.
“(Varitek) had a big game tonight,” said Semple. “He played really well over the weekend. He’s starting to understand some of the subtle things about the game and putting himself into position to be open for scoring chances.”
Varitek, S. Sterlitz (2) and Sayler put the Dreads up 4-0 after the first and Blodgett (2) and Varitek added the three second quarter goals to make it 7-0.
After the half, the Dreads almost equaled their first half output in the third quarter. Varitek added three more, Duncan, S. Sterlitz, and Schaefer also found the back of the net.
In the final frame, River Rat senior Ben Hires (2), junior Max Fraser, and senior Sean Underwood (2) would score for the River Rats but it was too little too late as S. Sterlitz and Varitek added goals to finish the game 15-5.
Defensively, Dread junior goalkeeper Tony Golin had a three quarter shutout before the Dreads tried some different things in the last quarter. Golin finished with 15 saves.
“The guys are starting to figure it out,” said Semple after the game. “We took a couple bad shots at the beginning but once we calmed down and relaxed, guys started to settle in and put the ball in the water and take shots in better situations.”
The Dreads travel to Saline on Sept. 18.
Photos taken by Beckie Sterlitz