By Steve Gunn

MUSKEGON – The Spring Lake girls’ soccer team never gives up, and it’s definitely not ready to surrender its perch atop the Lakes 8 Conference.LSJ Logo incert

The Lakers demonstrated that in their exciting 5-4 overtime shootout victory over a very good Muskegon Catholic team on the Crusaders’ home field on Wednesday.

MCC jumped out to an early two-goal lead, before the Spring Lake answered with three goals.

The Crusaders tied the score 3-3 late in regulation, forcing two 10-minute overtime periods. MCC gook a 4-3 lead late in the second overtime, before Spring Lake’s Emily Batts scored with six seconds remaining, forcing the overtime shootout.

Emily Batts gets dribbles around MCC's Talia Tyler. Photo/Leo Valdez

Emily Batts gets dribbles around MCC’s Talia Tyler during regulation. Photo/Leo Valdez

Four Lakers scored during the shootout, which pits one player at a time against the opposing goalie, while MCC only scored twice.

That left the Lakers with the come-from-behind victory, a 5-1-2 overall record and a 3-0 mark in the Lakes 8.

“We have a lot of game experience, and we always have the belief that we’re going to come back,” said Spring Lake Coach Jeremy Thelen, whose team has won or shared the Lakes 8 title for the better part of the last decade.

“I was already making a list of shooters (for the shootout) when we were a goal down. The girls worked hard all the way to the end and we scored with six seconds left.”

Saebryn Peel gets past MCC's Zoie Price. Photo/Leo Valdez

Saebryn Peel gets past MCC’s Zoie Price. Photo/Leo Valdez

Muskegon Catholic came into the game with an undefeated record, and showed why right away.

MCC’s Lauren Doriot scored twice within the first 11 minutes of the contest, giving the Crusaders a 2-0 edge.

But Spring Lake responded with three unanswered goals – by Saebryn Peel, Keara Fritsche and Batts –  and had a 3-2 lead at halftime.

“We didn’t come out very hard in the first 10 minutes and we paid for it,” said Thelen, whose team ended up outshooting MCC 13-5 in the first half. “We’re a team that’s been at the top and everybody’s gunning for us. We have to come out with that energy right away.”

Spring Lake maintained the offensive momentum in the second half, outshooting MCC 10-3. But Muskegon Catholic goalkeeper Isabelle Bertolone rose to the challenge, stopping everything the Lakers threw her way and keeping her team in the game.

Doriot finally scored for MCC with 10:49 left in regulation, completing her hat trick and tying the score at 3-3.

The first OT period was scoreless, then MCC appeared poised to claim a victory when Talia Tyler scored with 8:17 remaining in the second OT.

But Batts kicked a bouncing ball into the MCC goal from short range with six seconds left, knotting the score at 4-4 and forcing the shootout.

Jaedyn Shelton, Laney Peasely, Peel and Kayla Kreuger scored for Spring Lake during the shootout. MCC only managed two goals, and the Lakers exited with the victory.

“That was a heartbreaker,” said Muskegon Catholic Coach Michael Banta about Betts’ late goal that stole the victory from his team. “I was kind of hoping the girls would clear the ball into the woods – maybe all the way across the tennis courts – but they had tired legs by that point and I can see how it happened.

“(Spring Lake) is always a great team. They have great talent. This was maybe one of the best games we’ve played in the last couple of years. I was very happy with the way the girls played.”