By Aaron Poling
CEDAR SPRINGS – Some players just have a knack for scoring big goals in big games.
Spring Lakes’ Keegan Fritsche is one of those guys.
Fritsche scored a huge goal in the Lakers’ district championship game victory last week, then scored both goals on Tuesday in Spring Lake’s 2-0 victory over Forest Hills Eastern in a Division 2 regional soccer semifinal game at Cedar Springs High School.
Spring Lake, now 11-1-4 on the season, advances to the regional championship game – which is also a state quarterfinal game – on Thursday at 7 p.m. against East Grand Rapids.
“It’s funny, Keegan Fritsche seems to always be in the right place,” said Spring Lake Coach Jeremy Thelen after the big win. “He moves at this moppy pace, and doesn’t look fast, but he’s always in the right spot.”
Laker goalkeeper Aidan Parker got the shutout, stopping all 10 shots he faced. He also received some timely help from the Spring Lake defense in several dangerous situations.
“I owe a lot to my back line,” Parker said. “I made some bad decisions, but I know Jonah (Wilhelm), Jaxon (Tober), and Hunter (Malaski) will always be covering for me. I am very thankful that I have such a good group in front of me.”
The Lakers opened the scoring less than 10 minutes into the game. Forest Hills Eastern keeper Jermey O’Connor deflected a corner kick away from the goal, the ball bounced off a defender and rolled to Fritsche, who buried the it into the middle of the net.
That turned out to be the only goal of the first half.
“I thought the goalie was going to grab the ball, but the defender kicked it out, and the ball came right to me,” Fritsche said. “I had the shot and I just took it.”
The Lakers had a scary moment about midway through the second half, when the ball was perilously close to the Spring Lake goal line. Brendan Banda was the hero of the moment, clearing it away and saving a sure goal.
“The ball happened to get through and I saw the attacker on the other side,” Banda said. “I knew I had to get there first. I did what came to my head first and I cleared the ball.”
Less than 10 minutes later, another heroic effort from a Lakers defender saved another potential goal. This time Hunter Malaski slid and cleared the ball off of the goal line with 14:10 remaining in the game.
With 7:31 left, Porter Saunders sent a pass by the Forest Hills Eastern defense. Fritsche chased the ball down and fired it past the keeper into the bottom left corner of the net, giving the Lakers a much-needed insurance goal.
“If it wasn’t for Porter Saunders, that would have never happened,” Fritsche said about the pass that led to his second goal.
Forest Hills Eastern outshot Spring Lake 10-6, but was not rewarded for that effort.