The Michigan Water Polo Association (MWPA) has announced their first ever Regional Players of the Month.
A breakdown of the Players of the Month are below. Honorable mentions in each region are included.
East Region Girls: Emma Kaipainen, #5 Ranked Ann Arbor Huron River Rats
It was a month to remember as Kaipainen thrilled fans in the East Region. Kaipainen is scoring at a clip of over 5 goals per game (55 in ten games). She's been excellent defensively with 42 steals for Mary Chatigny's River Rats.
As Chatigny put it, Kaipainen frequently draws defensive traffic - but it hasn't deterred her from putting up monster numbers and leading the River Rats to a 9-1 start on the year. From her coaching staff: "She is a powerhouse."
While she's carried the mail herself, she's also dished out more than one assist per game (16 on the year) and draws one exclusion per outing on average.
Honorable Mention: Emily Jacoby, #9 Ranked Birmingham Seaholm Maples
Jacoby has put up absurd numbers in goal for the unbeaten Maples thus far that have already surpassed the line of ridiculous. She has an 84 percent save percentage, has launched 17 assists up the pool, stopped 3-4 five-meter attempts and scored five goals for the Maples in nine games this season. Former Maple goaltender and head coach Kellie Howe has a good one in Jacoby.
Honorable Mention: Sarah Hartwell, Grand Blanc Bobcats
Hartwell's statistics are similarly astounding comparative to what Emma Kaipainen put up. She's close in goals with 52 in 11 games (just under five per game), has 38 steals, 19 assists and has drawn four exclusions for the Bobcats. Emily Overmyer's squad has challenged a few ranked opponents, and with Hartwell, they look to play spoiler in the upcoming District tournament.
West Region Girls: Claire Witting, #1 Ranked East Grand Rapids Pioneers
The East Grand Rapids Pioneers are on a massive roll to start the season. While they're deep in experience, the game-breaking Witting paces the Pio's in a number of categories. The Pioneers are 13-0, locked into the top seed in the strong District 2 and have won a pair of 1 vs. 2 games this season in a span of 13 days.
Witting's 54 goals are impressive enough, until you realize she's also dished out 29 assists. The scouting report on the Indiana Commit: Long, excellent physical strength and devastating in one-on-one situations both offensively and defensively (41 steals). She's also drawn eight exclusions for Justin Hulsebus' Pioneers.
The Pioneers are looking to return to the State Tournament after a sixth place finish two years ago when Witting and the bulk of the squad were sophomores.
Honorable Mention: Chloe Krumm, #6 Ranked Hotel/Okemos Co-Op
The sample size may be smaller for Krumm but the averages are bonkers for the Hotel/Okemos star Chloe Krumm. In seven games, Krumm has 29 goals, 15 steals and 10 drawn exclusions for Madi Zink's traveling team. The senior captain is helping the Co-Op lead the way in the stiff competition of District 2.
Honorable Mention: Isabel Castro, #4 Ranked Grandville Bulldogs
The Bulldogs chose high-volume this year and have played 22 games already to date (with a 23rd coming tonight - May 4). Castro has thrived in it with 50 steals to go with 37 goals, 17 assists and 19 drawn exclusions in expanded action. Castro has done it with a challenging strength of schedule as half of her games have come against top ten teams, including six against top-six teams.
East Region Boys: Jonathan Carlson, #9 Ranked Grand Blanc Bobcats
The Bobcats, who have graduated some extraordinarily talented players over the last few years, appear to have reloaded themselves with Johnny Polo (trademark pending). Carlson has 32 goals and 21 drawn exclusions in just SEVEN games.
The Bobcats have recently broken into the top ten in the MWPA rankings and are giving good teams scares as they head down the stretch-run toward the MWPA postseason. Carlson also has 21 steals and 14 assists for Dan Command's Bobcats.
Look out for Carlson and the Bobcats in District 3, where they've played current #5 Birmingham Groves to a one-goal loss this season.
Honorable Mention: Sam Sterlitz, #2 Ranked Dexter Dreadnaughts
Sterlitz and the Dreads are on a mission after finishing as State Runners-Up last time around. They recently avenged an early season loss to current #4 Ann Arbor Pioneer in their pool, and Sterlitz has Brian Semple's Dreadnaughts firing on all cylinders (pun intended). Sterlitz has 31 goals, 33 steals, 12 drawn exclusions and 11 assists in just eight games in the month of April.
Honorable Mention: Dane Herrick, Lake Orion Dragons
Herrick has been a leader for Kevin Ott's Dragons with 27 goals amongst 36 steals, 24 assists and 16 drawn exclusions in 13 games so far this season. In a District that's had three different teams ranked at different points in time, Herrick has been undeterred by the strength of schedule.
West Region Boys: Hudson Verwys, #3 Ranked Rockford Rams
The Rams have rolled out to an 11-1 start this season and Verwys has been a big reason why. On a deep Rockford team, he has 35 goals, a BANANAS number of assists 33 (that goals to assists ratio tho.....) 40 steals, 25 drawn exclusions and nine field blocks.
Craig Peterman's Rams always seem to be a contender to finish top four if not threaten a state championship. When you factor in that Verwys is directly responsible in some way for 68 goals in 12 games (5.7 a game if you want the math) for a team playing a ton of bodies, you can see why they continue to stay near the top in the polls and appear primed for another run as we head into the MWPA Postseason.
Honorable Mention: Paul Williams #7 Ranked East Grand Rapids Pioneers
If you're a Detroit Sports fan right now, we KNOW you're looking for something that's worth the price of admission, and that thing is Paul "the Wall." The bombastic goalkeeper for Raheem Brown's Pioneers has to be watched at BOTH ends of the pool as he's scored four times from distance. He has 145 saves, 12 assists and 15 steals in 12 games. Also notable, referred to as "The hype man," by his coach. Do with that what you will.
Honorable Mention: Thomas MacDonald, #6 Ranked Grand Haven Buccaneers
The reliable and speedy Thomas MacDonald has also put up some big-time numbers for Bill Hamm's Buccs. MacDonald has 40 goals to go with 19 assists, 32 steals, 17 drawn exclusions, and 15 field blocks. You look at those numbers and think "Huh, that's a pretty darn good month," and you'd be absolutely spot on. The competition MacDonald faced for this award was extremely stiff, and he continues to meet every challenge tossed at him. Keep your eyes on Mac as the postseason closes in.
About Regional Players of the Month: Regional Players of the Month are nominated by head coaches monthly. This month included games played in the month of March as there was no March player of the month segment.
Players of the month are chosen by an impartial algorithm putting into play strength of schedule, total stats, averages, and games played. Inquiries on this page? Use the website's chat feature in the bottom right corner. Answering times may vary.