In water polo, it’s Friday night that matters. If a team wins on Friday night, they move on to the next level of Championships and play on Saturday for seeding. If they lose, their season ends immediately.
In 2017, the Pioneer Men’s Water Polo team won on Friday night at Districts, thereby qualifying for Regionals. They finished fourth out of the four teams during the Saturday seeding games which meant that the following Friday night at Regionals, they played the number one seed from the other District. It’s not easy for a number four team to beat a number one team. Pioneer lost to Okemos, 11 – 4. Season over.
In 2018, Pioneer Men’s Water Polo team qualified for Regionals again and finished second overall at Districts. This time they were the second seed versus the third seed, Grand Blanc. Again they lost on Friday night and their season ended.
This year could’ve been the same. At Districts Pioneer finished second putting them in position to play the number three team, Okemos. Sounds familiar? However, this year Pioneer dominated on Friday night, beating Okemos 13-6. After four years of not advancing out of Regionals, Pioneer finally qualified for the State Tournament.
Pioneer isn’t the only success story this year. The top four teams out of Districts were, in order, Dexter, Pioneer, Huron, and Skyline.
Skyline had the difficult job of being the number four seed playing the number one seed, Birmingham Seaholm. Yet, they played a fast-paced, determined game and won 11-7. In fact, all four schools from District 4 beat all four schools from District 3.
Saturday’s seeding games looked similar to the ones the previous weekend. This time, Pioneer beat Skyline 9-2. Dexter and Huron were tied 8-8 at the end of regulation time. During the two-three minute over times, Dexter scored twice winning 10-8. In the final games of the day, Dexter beat Pioneer 11-6 to secure first place in the Region while Huron beat Skyline 9-6. The four teams ended the weekend in the same order as at Districts: Dexter, Pioneer, Huron, Skyline.
Awards were presented by the host team, Birmingham Groves.
East All-Region 1st Team:
Henri Schneehagen, Pioneer
Dylan Schmitzerle, Huron
Edwin Barnett, Huron
Atticus Dewey, Skyline
East All-Region 2nd Team:
Jack Shemke, Pioneer
Cam Williston, Pioneer
Mathieu Ruelle, Pioneer goalie
Nicky Boucher, Skyline goalie
Noah Boucher, Skyline
Coach of the Year:
Don Packard, Pioneer
All four teams will play on Friday, November 15th at East Lansing High School for the State Championship.