Local Sports Journal

It looked as if Wednesday’s Division 2 state semifinal soccer match between Spring Lake and Sturgis was headed for overtime.

But Spring Lake’s Nic Ellingboe corralled a deflection in front of the  Sturgis net and deposited the ball behind goaltender Issac Montoya with less than two minutes remaining, giving the Lakers a thrilling 2-1 win at Plainwell High School.

The win sends Spring Lake (16-6-3) into its second state championship match in three years on Saturday at noon at East Kentwood’s Crestwood Middle School.

Spring Lake will face East Lansing, which defeated St. Clair Shores Lake Shore in the other Division 2 semifinal on Wednesday night.

Sturgis got on the board first, 21 minutes into the contest, when Carlos Maldonado sent a pass to Junuhel Rubio, who beat Spring Lake goaltender Joe Czajka.

But the Lakers tied the contest shortly before halftime when Alec Palmer sent a corner kick in front of the Sturgis net and Kaden Kendall chipped it in.

“We were a little frustrated after Sturgis scored that first goal,” Spring Lake coach Jeremy Thelen said. “It was really nice to get that goal right before halftime. If we had been down at the half it might have been a different story.”

The state championship berth comes a year after Spring Lake was ranked No. 1 in the state but lost in the regional finals.

The Lakers lost 13 players to graduation and lost six matches in the regular season this fall.  But they’ve been on a roll the entire state tournament.

“These guys know we have a certain standard here at Spring Lake and they lived up to it,” Thelen said. “I’m really pleased with the way these guys have pulled together at this point.”