Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Pioneer High School
Ann Arbor Huron High School
The history of the rivalry between Ann Arbor Pioneer and Ann Arbor Huron is just about as long as a rivalry can get in Michigan water polo history. The have faced each other in 10 of the 45 total state championships (Huron holds the edge, 6-4), and if there was a running tally of games between them the total would certainly be near .500. River Rats grow up dreaming of beating Pioneer, and vice versa, regardless of if they swim together at WISC or play club together in the offseason. The games are almost always tight and high energy – this author can remember a time when drum lines were brought into the respective natatoriums, drowning out all sound and pumping high-octane noise into the atmosphere. The teams are usually closely ranked, evenly matched and out for blood.
This game was not like a usual game. Pioneer, having lost it’s all-region goalie in Court Middleton and all-region star field player in Daniel Zacks to the bane of all high school coaches, graduation, is in a rebuilding year. Far from short of players, carrying a roster of 33, what coach Hart lacks is players with experience – especially in net, as he started a true freshman there.
Huron brings a core of Seniors who have played together since their Sophomore year. Goalie Nik Ford, operating at an All-State level, is a brick wall in net, while Alex Kaipainen, Avi Cohen and Jorge DiGiovanni play their final year together as wise seniors in the field. Complimented by astute, hard working and intelligent players such as senior David Endicott, Juniors Dane Hubers, Jon Wang, Brandon Geng and Borun Bhattacharya, with a youth movement of experienced Sophomores Dylan Schmitzerle, Edwin Barnett and Ben Hires nipping at their heels, Huron is loaded this year.
The result of Tuesday nights game showed. A 15-1 drubbing of Pioneer, with their lone goal a beautiful backhand out of set in the 4th quarter, illustrated the gulf between these years teams. Give it an other year and the games will be competitive again – they almost always are – but this year, if you are a Rat fan, feel good in knowing that your team is the cream of the Ann Arbor crop.
Watch the game in its entirety, commentated by ann Arbor CTV, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLpLU2gTdto