The first thing you notice about the Chelsea women’s water polo team is their size or lack of it. Not the height as 6 foot 2-inch netminder Catherine Wellman towers over most people, but the size of the number of players on the team. There are only 10 girls on the team which limits substitutions since 7 girls are in the water all at once. The team is so small that the varsity team is actually the junior varsity team also!
But although small in players Coach Gayle Hurn’s Lady Bulldogs are big on heart and teamwork. And going up against a much bigger and experienced Grand Blanc team was going to be very tough. But it was senior night and the Lady Bulldogs were going to try to honor their 3 seniors with a victory.
The visiting Bobcats struck first when Izzy Curtiss snuck one past Wellman. But in the second quarter, the Bulldogs roared back with a big goal by Sophomore Melissa Jolly. The Bobcats then dominated the 2nd with goals by Miranda Gutierrez and Curtiss taking a 3-1 lead into the half.
After Hurn’s strategy was laid out to the ladies for the second half play resumed and the Coaches plan worked as Senior Meryl McDonnel faked the Bobcat netminder out and blasted the ball into an empty net. That was the beginning as Chelsea exploded for 2 more goals, by Senior Captain Emma Adkins and McDonnel again to take a 4-3 lead in the third. But the Bobcats weren’t giving up and retaliated with 3 quick goals of their own. After a Coach Hurn timeout to settle the girls down, the Bulldogs hit the water again trailing by 2. The Bobcats had several great chances but Wellman made many outstanding save and just got better as the game went on, keeping her team close enough for a comeback.
With time being of the essence, Chelsea took advantage of some great passing and was able to get Jolly open for her second goal of the night. Trailing by 1 things were starting to look bleak as the Bulldogs were looking for their 4th victory of the season. After another Coach Hurn timeout, Chelsea used whatever she told the ladies, and used it well, because the play was executed perfectly by the team as Adkins scored the tying goal sending the game into overtime.
In overtime, the Lady Bulldogs got the ball and moved it right away to set up Jolly’s third goal of the night for the lead. The Bobcats tried many different things including using lots of substitutions to take advantage of the tired Bulldogs but they weren’t having it as Sophomore Serena Adams put the icing on the cake with a beautiful goal to give the Bulldogs a hard-fought and much deserved 8-6 victory.
AS the girls celebrated and congratulated the Bobcats on a great challenge former EMU Coach Hurn was very ecstatic. “These girls played great, I’m so proud of them,” she stated. “In my time here we have never beaten Grand Blanc. They’re a very good team and a great program. Our goalkeeper (Wellman) played her best game of the season and she just got better and stronger as the game went on. I’m so happy for the girls, they needed this and they deserved it.”
After the big victory Seniors Adkins, McDonnel, and Kiersten Stehlik were all honored with a gift of flowers for them and their parents. There was no JV game because Grand Blanc declined to play it. Next up for the Lady Bulldogs is the District playoffs.