Chelsea Water Polo Qualifies for State Finals for First Time
The Chelsea girls’ water polo team made history this weekend by qualifying for the MWPA state finals tournament for the first time in school history.
Come off a season where the Bulldogs won its first-ever playoff game, Chelsea took it one step further this year and moved on to the state finals at Hudsonville June 2nd and 3rd.
The Bulldogs entered the regional tournament at Saline needing a win to move on to the finals and as the number four seed, they drew the number one seed from the other east district in Grand Blanc. To face a number one seed in the opener is a tough draw, but the Bulldogs got some luck when Grand Blanc pulled an upset in the district finals as the third seed and qualified in the top spot.
Chelsea had beaten Grand Blanc twice in the regular season and their confidence showed from the start that they were not afraid of the number one seed in the tournament.
Keygan Monahan put the Bulldogs on top with a pair of quick goals for a 2-0 lead. The Bobcats would get one back to cut the lead to 2-1 after one.
The Bulldogs defense was in lockdown all night, keyed by goaltender Sydney Barstons, who was stellar in net and came up with some huge saves and got some help with a few shots that hit the post and stayed out of the net.
Chelsea pushed the lead to 4-1 at the half with goals from Tallulah Gorby and Kiera Crawley and they would pull away in the second half.
Crawley, Isabelle Tuell, Amelia Christy, and Monahan all scored third-period goals as the Chelsea lead grew to 8-2 after three.
Monahan would score her third goal of the night to help Chelsea hold on to the 9-3 win over the top seed and lock a spot in the state finals.
As time wound down emotional Chelsea coach Jessica Hinderer leaned against the wall with tears in her eyes as the player celebrated the historic win for the Bulldogs.
Chelsea would drop its next two matches to Saline-Milan 10-4 and AA Skyline 12-3, but they got the win they needed to advance to Hudsonville next weekend.
They will enter the state finals as a four-seed from the East Region and will face top-ranked Hudsonville in the first round. A win means a top-four finish and a loss means a 5th-8th place finish.
Photos by Mike Williamson