By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

SPRING LAKE – The top-ranked Spring Lake Laker boys’ soccer team has delivered plenty of “punches” on the field this season.

Western Michigan Christian midfielder Bailey Heykoop kicks the ball up the field during Monday night’s game against Spring Lake. Photo by John Mulder.

Rarely is there a counter punch.

But on Monday night, the Lakers raced to a three-goal lead then held on in the second half for a 4-3 victory over the Western Michigan Christian Warriors.

The Lakers came into the game undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Division 2. In the Super Six, which includes a ranking for all classes, the Lakers came in ranked No. 2. The Warriors  are ranked No. 7 in Division 4.

“We’ve had teams lay down when we get up on them,” Laker coach Jeremy Thelen said. “We knew WMC was not going to go away.”

In the opening half, Spring Lake (12-0) made the most of its chances and it started in the early minutes when high-scoring Riley Kammeraad got loose in the offensive end. He eluded the goalkeeper and using his speed, tracked down the ball and scored to make it 1-0 just 2:30 into the match.

Senior Austin Gabris made it 2-0 with a blast from 18 yards out that sailed into the net in the upper left corner. Ben Keller assisted and the Lakers were off and running.

Three minutes after the Spring Lake goal, WMC (7-4-1) got on the board when senior Josh Binnendyk raced out from his post in the Warrior defense and sent a crossing pass to the goalmouth. Chaise Schuiteman redirected the ball back inside the far post.

Before the half would end, Spring Lake would get two more goals.

Kammeraad fired a low shot that went under WMC goalkeeper Jacob Berens and into the net. With 48 seconds left in the half, K.J. Sanchez scored after a strong run up the left wing. His shot made it 4-1 at the half.

“The last 10 minutes of the first half, we gave up those two goals and that killed us, especially the one with 48 seconds left,” WMC coach David Hulings said.

The Lakers kept up the pressure in the early going of the second half, but could not score.

Binnendyk got loose for a shot with 25:27 remaining that hit the right post and ricocheted out of bounds.

The Warriors were able to notch their second goal with 14:55 to play. The ball was lofted in front of the Laker net where Alex Rop settled it and freshman Will Deur kicked it. Deur’s looping shot sailed over the head of goalkeeper Joseph Czajka and into the net.

Ten minutes later, Rop set up another goal with a long throw-in from the left sideline. His throw was headed into the net by Binnendyk with 4:39 remaining.

That would be the last goal of the night and Spring Lake escaped with its undefeated record intact.

Spring Lake played without two of their starters, sweeper Nic Ellingboe and Adam Clauss, the Lakers’ best all-around player.

“I think we got comfortable and we used some subs,” Thelen said. “It’s not a conference game. We did not take WMC lightly. The name of that program is very well respected.”

Hulings and his Warriors walked off the field knowing they had played their best against a quality team.

“We came out here to leave it all on the field,” Hulings said. “We came here feeling this would be the best team we play all year.”

Spring Lake outshot WMC 18-8.