By Seth Vanderwest
It was the Lakers’ first tight tournament game after beating Reeths-Puffer 6-1 and Whitehall 7-1 in the districts.
From the opening kickoff, it was a physical, back-and-forth game. Spring Lake sophomore wing Ella Andree used her speed to lead forays into Cadillac territory, but the team was unable to find a clean shot on the net.
Finally, with 13 minutes left in the first half, the Lakers capitalized off a throw-in to go ahead 1-0. Junior Lauren Cavalier flicked the ball backwards with her head to a waiting Mea Bajt, who buried it in the back of the net.
Spring Lake turned up the pressure on the Viking defense in hopes of scoring a second goal before halftime. With 3 minutes left, they drew a corner kick. Senior defender Eryn Bouwhuis placed the ball in front of the goal where Bajt drove it past the goalie to score her second goal of the game and a 2-0 Laker lead.
The second half began much like the first, with both teams launching attacks, but neither getting open looks at the goal. Cadillac eventually turned up the pressure and that led to Spring Lake assuming more of a defensive posture.
With 18 minutes left in the game, Cadillac succeeded in scoring off of a corner kick to cut the lead to 2-1.
However, for the rest of the game, the Laker defense, led by center back Eryn Bouwhuis, stiffened and did not give up another good shot on net.
“There were two keys in today’s game,” said Spring Lake head coach Becky May. “Mea doing her job – putting the ball in the back of the net. And our defense doing its job. Everything else we just fill in. Our defense was very good today against a relentless attack.”
Spring Lake will take on Forest Hills Central, a 4-1 winner over East Grand Rapids in Tuesday’s other semifinal game.
Thursday’s regional title game begins at 6 p.m. at Cedar Springs High School.