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  • Writer's pictureMWPA News Wire

MWPA Quarterfinal Preview of Hudsonville vs. Saline

The final Quarterfinal Match-Up in the Hudsonville Pool is hosted by the three-time defending champion and second West seeded Hudsonville Eagles, as they prepare to take on the third seed out of the East region in the Saline Hornets. While the Hornets are looking for their first ever State Championship and third all-time berth into the big game, the Eagles are looking to defend their nest and title streak.

Meet the second seeded Eagles

Record: 18-3

Prior Match-Ups: No Prior Meetings

This Year: District 1 Champions, West Regional Runners-Up

Head Coach: Ian Hewett

Award Winners (Below)

Sofia Biriouk - All-OK Conference, All-Region First Team, All-Region Tournament Second Team

Marley Persch - All-OK Conference, All-Region First Team, All-Region Tournament Second Team

Sydney Kline - All-OK Conference, All-Region Second Team

Macie DeJonge (G) - All-OK Conference HM, , All-Region HM

Taylor Wilson - All-Region Tournament First Team

They are three-time defending state champions, but the last time they won the big dance was two years ago with the COVID shut down. Two players on the current roster saw more than just significant minutes, and it led the Eagles to an 18-3 record this year despite plenty of adversity.

"It is always an honor to compete for a state championship, but this year is especially special. With all of the obstacles that this past year has brought, I am just glad that my girls are getting an opportunity to play," Head coach Ian Hewett said. "It really puts things in perspective and we are not taking it for granted."

This is the lone first round mtach-up in which there is no prior history this season.

"While we have not seen Saline this year, they have consistently established themselves as a state contender throughout the years," Hewett said. "I played water polo with their coach, Nathan Barnett, at Grand Valley and know that he will have his team prepared to make a run at this state tournament"

This season, the Eagles ground out a District Championship game win shorthanded, and have gone 8-3 against top ten teams in 11 meetings, the second most of any team in their district. Their only losses are to current #1 East Grand Rapids, and the Rockford Rams.


Record: 9-7

Prior Match-Ups: No Prior Meetings

Head Coach: Nathan Barnett, Jacob Aulisia

Award Winners (Below)

Audrey Cook -All-Region First Team, All-Region Tournament Co-MVP

Elizabeth Burchart - All-Region First Team, All-Region Tournament First Team

Sydney Anderson - All-Region Second Team, All-Region Tournament Second Team

The Hornets have largely been very impressive considering their roster of nine players and having qualified for the state tournament, coaches Nathan Barnett and Jacob Aulisia have managed to take a team with three seniors (all at worst were All-Region second team) and make it this far.

"For us competing in this tournament means a lot. At the start of this season we didn't know where we would end up or if the girls could play," Barnett said. "Being able to compete at the most important tournament we offer is a testament to how hard these girls worked to achieve their goals."

The Hornets last made state championship game appearances (runner-up finishes) in 2009 and 2010.

As for their schedule, 10 of the Hornets 16 games have come against top ten teams with a 3-7 record. They are tied for having played the second most top-ten games of any team in District 4 with Ann Arbor Huron.

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