Skyline’s water polo teams started the regular season against one of their main rivals in Michigan: Okemos.
The Chiefs came into the September 13th games ranked 2nd by the Michigan Water Polo Association – followed closely by our own Eagles, ranked 3rd under long-time head coach Rebecca Godek.
A couple of hours after the first sprint in the JV game, the Eagles ended up with two victories and memories of an incredibly stressful varsity game that went into two regular overtime periods before one Eagle battered his way to the goal to score the sudden-win victory in the 3rd OT.
Sharp play defined the JV contest, with the Eagles taking the lead in the first quarter and holding on despite the Chiefs putting on the pressure and scoring four goals in the last quarter. Derek Mrachko scored three goals and Noah Boucher scored two, with teammates Max Barry, Atticus Dewey and Ben Keith rounding out the offense. Goalies Nicky Boucher and Jamison Bown led the defense, along with consistent pressure from Nick Partridge, Dewey, Ryan Hsia, Thor Clarke (who prompted a key turnover) and Jack Theiss.
The varsity game started amid the tension of a big match-up. Okemos outscored the Eagles in the first quarter as the Chiefs’ stellar goalie blocked shot after shot. But two made it into the net after quick-release shots by Ethan Procoppe and Wilson Noll, leaving the Eagles down 5-2 at the end of the first.
Eagles defenders held the Chiefs scoreless in the 2nd, thanks to key defenders Shane MacNeil, Keegan Gardner, and Josh Smith. The Eagles scores three goals – two by Noll and one by Matteo Procoppe – to tie the game at the half.
By the third quarter sprint, everyone at the pool knew they were watching a game between two talented teams that could go either way. The Eagles scored three, with Noll nailing his 4th and 5th of the night and Ethan Procoppe getting his second. They left the quarter ahead by two goals, thanks in large part to a standout game by Eagles goalie Mason Hickman.
The fourth quarter was defined for the Chiefs by three goals, all by Evan Woolcock. They were answered by Noll’s 6th bullet of the game, leaving the score tied and sending the game into overtime. Little did coaches, players and fans know, but even that first 3-minute session wouldn’t end the game. It stayed scoreless, sending the teams into the second OT.
Players on both sides felt the pressure, but Eagles like Spencer Jyawook and Patrick Dempsey kept pushing hard with their smart play. Matteo Procoppe scored, sending the Eagles to what seemed like certain victory – until a literal last-second score by the Chiefs.
The third OT started well after 8 p.m., and it promised drama: The first goal would win the game. Just as the crowd was starting to wonder how long the drama could last, the Eagles took the ball toward the Chiefs’ goal. A quick pass from Ethan Procoppe to Gardner resulted in what looked like a scrum from the other end of the pool, but he dug in and got closer to the net, pushing it in and raising his arm in victory.
The final score: 12-11.
The game was a hard-fought victory for the Eagles, one that showed their poise under pressure and the depth that’s developing across the roster.