By Andrew Johnson
And win is what the Lakers did, defeating Reeths-Puffer 4-0 in the Division 2 district championship game at Coopersville High School – but it wasn’t as easy as the final score suggests.
For the first 58:50 of the game, the score remained 0-0, although Spring Lake outshot Reeths-Puffer 5-0 in the first half.
But with just 21:10 remaining in regulation, Spring Lake senior Madeline Zenas sent a long lobbing shot from approximately 25 yards out toward the Reeths-Puffer goal.
Rocket goalkeeper Olivia Alvesteffer appeared ready to make the play before the ball took a higher- than-expected bounce over her head and into the back of the net, giving Spring Lake a 1-0 lead.
“It felt really good,” said Zenas about the goal, which was more of a lob toward the net rather than a striking shot. “Sadly, it wasn’t intentional, but it kind of sparked something, which we really needed.”
After that the Lakers’ offense roaring into full motion.
Just over five minutes later, Zenas scored her second goal, giving Spring Lake a 2-0 lead with 16:04 remaining.
With 7:29 left, Phoebe Saunders passed the ball to a streaking Sara Gray, who found the back of the net for a 3-0 Laker advantage.
The last goal of the night came from Saunders with 2:37 remaining.
“There haven’t been many games this year where we were tied at half,” said Spring Lake head coach Becky May. “They were in a little bit of a panic, but we just needed to get consistent pressure and we did.”
Overall Spring Lake outshot Reeths-Puffer 13-3.
Reeths-Puffer, which started the season 1-4 overall, finished with a very respectable 13-6-1 record under first-year head coach Dillon McCarthy.
“We’re proud of the girls,” McCarthy said. “They didn’t hang their heads and they worked as hard as they could. We don’t have any disappointment as coaches.”
Spring Lake improved to 17-1-2 overall and will take on either Hamilton or Zeeland East in the Division 2 regional semifinals at Holland on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
This will be the fifth straight regional appearance for Spring Lake, which lost to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern last season in the regional finals in an overtime shootout.
“It’s a great honor,” May said. “It shows consistency, and it’s paying off when you have buy in from everyone every year.”