Ballard rides the Roosevelt Rough Riders to their seventh straight overall win in a 17-2 landslide victory on Monday night at Woodland Park.
The Beaver’s are averaging 17 goals a game half way through their season with five players having 10 or more goals to themselves. Junior attackman Cole Erkenbeck and freshman attackman Joe Zahner had a huge night recording 5 goals each with the help of one talented individual, senior attackman Kai Chamberlain (2 goals, 7 assists).
Chamberlain’s 7 assists brings his total in-conference assist count to 32 as he currently is the topped ranked assist artist in the state of Washington. His role in this team has played a major part in the Beaver’s success with his total goal and assist count making up 45% of his team’s in-conference goals.
The Rough Riders had a long night but that didn’t stop junior midfielder Nate Koidahl from winning 76% of the face-offs. He showed a lot of hustle on the field grabbing 12 ground balls for his team. The boys on the field were still enjoying themselves as most of the players on both sides have played with each other for years.
The Beavers were making some impressive interceptions at the beginning of the game striking real concern in the Rough Rider’s ability to pass. Koidahl was killing Ballard on the face-offs giving his team an advantage they were unable to capitalize on. This game quickly got away from Roosevelt when Ballard put up 10 goals in the first 19 minutes of regulation putting them in a tough position.
By the time Roosevelt was looking at a 9-goal deficit they turned it up on defense in the effort to gain control of the game. This resulted in three slashing penalties in the final minutes of the first half as it seemed impossible to pull the ball away from the Beaver offense. Penalties seemed to be the theme in this game with Ballard pulling seven of their own before the first half had ended 12-1 Ballard.
There was not much fight left in the game as the officials kept the clock running while the lead was over 10 goals. Regulation time winded down with a few more penalties and goals from Ballard as Chamberlain closed out the game with a goal for himself and an assist to Erkenbeck, 17-2 final.
“Absolutely proud of these guys, they’ve been working so hard since last season.” Ballard head coach Don Preston expresses his pride for how far his team has come.
“They’ve been starting to work on changing their attitudes and fundamentals and working really hard since before the season ended last year. It really shows after they came back from the break that they actually did work on everything.”
Last season Ballard played in the Metro DI conference averaging less than 8 goals a game with a disappointing 2-7 record. They are playing in a lower division this year but they are clearly proving that they would have been tough competition for any DI team. Preston is growing his team to compete with the best influencing great players like Chamberlain to find the value in teamwork.
“He’s really developed in this year. He’s really bought into what we’re trying to do with the program and he’s really stepped up in a leadership role. It’s night and day from last year, he’s really embraced working for the whole team.”
Chamberlain is sitting at 18 goals and 32 assists for the 2017 season placing him in a top tier category among his peers in the league. It’s not uncommon for young athletes to seek out glory of game-defining goals as the romance of being a hero is incredibly desirable.
“Last year I know I wouldn’t look at any passes and I would go straight for the goal.” Chamberlain admits. “This year I’m keeping my head up and looking all around making the defenders move so that there’s defender rotation and everyone opens up.”
The Rough Riders will lick their wounds as they move onto 4-3 and prepare to head to Blanchet (0-5) on Friday. Ballard continues their hot streak moving to 6-0 as they will host Blanchet on Wednesday. They will be eager Beavers to face their former DI opponents in a statement game to prove they belong in an upper division.
Story by Michael Thornbloom.