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  • Writer's pictureMWPA News Wire

MWPA Quarterfinal Preview of Ann Arbor Huron Vs Rockford

The two teams in this match-up have combined for 13 state titles, tied for the most any two MWPA girls teams currently combines for (Ann Arbor Pioneer and Ann Arbor Huron would also combine for 13), and we get to see them in the Quarterfinals. The Ann Arbor Huron River Rats and Rockford Rams are set to meet for the second time this season, now with a trip to the State Semi's on the line.

Meet the second seeded River Rats

Record: 16-4

Prior Match-Ups: Rockford leads series 1-0 (6-3, May 8 @ Rockford)

This Year: District 4 Champions, East Regional Runners-Up

Head Coach: Mary Chatigny

Award Winners (Below)

Emma Kaipainen - All-Region MVP, All-Region Tournament First Team

Lydia Hargett (G) - All-Region Second Team, All-Region Tournament Second Team

Zannah Baker - All-Region Second Team, All Region Tournament Co-MVP

Dre Hubers - All-Region HM, All-Region Tournament Second Team

Clara Bowman - All-Region Tournament Second Team

Rory McDaniel - All-Region Tournament HM

The River Rats have been an East Side powerhouse for the most part this season, but met their match in the East Regional Championship when a week after brushing aside the Ann Arbor Skyline Eagles, they fell to those same Eagles by a goal. That said, they've played at a high level with the most wins of any team in the East Region and fifth most in the state.

"If there is any team out there deserving to compete for the State Championship, it's this one," head coach Mary Chatigny said. "The push and drive that this team brings to every practice and competition is relentless. They want to win, and have put in the work. This opportunity is everything to us, and we are truly looking forward to competing."

About a month ago, the River Rats came west to duel the Rams in their pool. It was a 6-3 Rockford win, but sets the stage for what's sure to be an excellent quarterfinal match-up.

"Rockford has some really strong outside shooters and fantastic coaching," Chatigny said. "While we were only able to play them once this season, it was obvious they are a special team. They moved the ball well and were able to capitalize on their offensive opportunities. We are very excited to get the chance to play Rockford again in this postseason setting."

In terms of level of strength in the schedule, the River Rats are tied for the second most games of any East Region team played against top ten opponents (10) and have the best win percentage (.600) of East Region teams in those games. All four of their losses are to top ten opponents.


Meet the third seeded Rams

Record: 23-5

Prior Match-Ups: Rockford leads series 1-0 (6-3, May 8 @ Rockford)

This Year: District 2 Runners-Up

Head Coach: Katie Clarin

Award Winners (Below)

Rylee Davis - All-Region First Team, All-OK Conference

Paige Beers - All-OK Conference, All-Region Second Team, All-Region Tournament Second Team

Josie Geers - All-Region Second Team, All-Region Tournament First Team, All-OK Conference HM

Sophie Stallworth (G) - All-OK Conference, All-Region HM, All-Region Tournament HM

Of all teams in the MWPA, only one has played more games than the Rockford Rams and their 28, of which, they've won 23. Their only losses are to top ten teams, and they have continuously pushed the top five teams in the state to the limit, closing gaps that existed in prior meetings the second and third times around.

"Having the opportunity to play for a State Championship means giving our team and especially our seniors one more chance to play the game they love with the team they have grown so close to against the best teams in Michigan," Head Coach Katie Clarin said. "It is one more opportunity to truly show how much our team has grown and improved together. Qualifying for the State Championship is one of our major goals to start the season so knowing we accomplished that is an incredible feeling but we earned two more weeks to work hard and set another goal of finishing as one of the top teams in the State.”

As for the match-up, very few secrets exist. The teams have seen each other head-to-head and have great respect for each other.

“Ann Arbor Huron is always a team that comes ready to play and compete," Clarin said. "They play the game the right way and are incredibly well coached. As soon as I heard we were matched up with them I knew our team had to get to work and start preparing. We are looking forward to this match-up and know it will be a great game played between two historically great teams.”

As earlier stated, Rockford is tied for the second most state championships of any girls team in MWPA history (5) behind Ann Arbor Huron (8).

The Rams are tied for having played the most games of any team against top 10 opponents (17) and have the second most wins in those situations (12) behind only unbeaten number one East Grand Rapids. This season the Rams are unbeaten in four games against teams from the East Region.

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