Girls water polo player of year: Okemos' Sarah Williams

Okemos' Sarah Williams shoots against Rockford Friday, June 3, 2016, at East Lansing High School. Okemos won 6-5.

Okemos’ Sarah Williams shoots against Rockford Friday, June 3, 2016, at East Lansing High School. Okemos won 6-5.

Okemos junior Sarah Williams had a very simple approach to the spring season with the Chiefs’ water polo team – do more good than bad.

Williams led the Chiefs to a deep state tournament run and had  additional success on top of last year’s player of the year campaign.

Earning the honor again this year, Williams posted 157 goals to set a varsity record. She also had 61 assists, 146 steals and 91 drawn ejections.

“I tried to improve my shooting percentages, … look for better opportunities, not necessarily just throwing it up because I had an open shot, but look for a more open shot at the cage or look for where the goalie is,” Williams said. “I tried to increase the number of steals and improve my defense and improve on where the team was falling short a bit.”

Okemos coach Matt Latham said Williams did a nice job of getting everyone involved.

“It’s not about her when she’s in the water,” Latham said. “She wants to make sure everybody is able to chip in because that makes her job easier too.”

The 157 goals surpassed her sophomore year total of 99 and Katie Dudley’s previous record. Dudley plays collegiately for Stanford University.

“She’s such a great player and she was such a role model for me when I was first coming up in the program,” Williams said of Dudley. “The fact I was up there on the board with my name next to hers was a very nice thing to see.”

The drawn ejections total broke a record that had stood within the program for 15 years. With her senior season still ahead, Williams may be able to add to those marks.

“She’s a great athlete. I joke with her that I’ve been coaching her for so long now that in games it’s almost like we don’t have to verbally communicate on what needs to be done,” Latham said. “We just kind of look at each other and know we’re on the same page. She scored the game-winning goal against Rockford that got us into the (state) semi with under 30 seconds to go and I knew she’d be able to get the job done. It’s just what you’ve come to expect from a kid like her and she followed suit pretty much every time and she’d be able to put the ball in the back of the net for us.”

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