If that’s the case, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the high-powered attack of the Grand Haven boys soccer team and the defensive-minded Spring Lake boys soccer team would ultimately cancel each other out.
The battle of the unstoppable force and the immovable object resulted in a 0-0 tie on Tuesday night at Grand Haven High School, with the Buccaneers (4-1-1) and the Lakers (2-4-1) both taking the scoreless result in various strides.
Photo Gallery: Grand Haven, Spring Lake play to 0-0 tie
“It’s a little frustrating,” said Grand Haven head coach Aaron Dean. “Spring Lake stuck to their game plan the entire game and made it difficult for us to get anything going. It was frustrating to play against, and we weren’t able to find the adjustments that we needed in order to break them down.
“Their group of defenders worked really hard and moved the ball side to side pretty well. They compressed the space on us and did a lot of things really well on their end of the field. That also set them up for some clean counterattacks on the other end and as the game wore on, they started to catch us on some of those.
“I thought Spring Lake played well and executed their gameplan, but it was frustrating to me that we weren’t able to play through it and find a solution for that type of defense.”
After a scoreless first half that saw limited scoring chances, the Grand Haven offense attempted to change their attack, but the condensed nature of the Spring Lake defense made those changes moot.
“We made some little tweaks to our attack in the second half, but when you are playing against a team that works really hard and are fundamentally sound in their organization along the back, it doesn’t leave you much space to apply those changes,” Dean added.
“I think we did a better job of playing over the top in the second half, and I think we got into the final third of the field more often, but I wouldn’t say we were particularly dangerous or anything. We didn’t rip any shots on them at any point. That just wasn’t happening tonight.”
Dean hopes the team can learn from the frustrations of Tuesday’s scoreless tie.
“It’s going to happen again,” he said of the defensive strategy applied by Spring Lake. “Whether it’s a team’s gameplan from the start or just us trying to play from behind and the other team trying to preserve their lead. We have to find a solution to that.
“We’ve got some lessons to learn as a team, and hopefully we can work on those things at practice and drill them up to be better prepared for those situations in the future.
“We need to be more dynamic on challenging play. We do a nice job of playing the first pass, but we need to do a better job on the second and third passes. We can’t have an ocean of space between two defenders and allow teams to connect passes in the final third of the field. That comes down to heart and determination, and we have to do a better job with that.”
SPRING IN THEIR STEP
The draw with Grand Haven could turn out to be a pivotal moment in the Spring Lake boys soccer team’s season this fall.
The defensive effort and intensity were present from start to finish, but now head coach Jeremy Thelen wants to see the team combine those skills with some playmaking on the attack.
“Our season has been up and down so far, so we needed to come in here tonight and put together a shift of hard work,” he said. “We knew that we were going to have to play strong defensively, because Grand Haven has a very high-powered offense and Conner Lund is a kid that has torn apart other O-K Red teams in the past.
“So we just needed to do our jobs. Our goalie, Clayton Glasglow, is only a sophomore and he did an excellent job facing the fire that was brought his way. I thought everyone along the backline played their tails off, and I was proud of the effort tonight.
“Now, I want to find out if we can get some offense going, and we can step out of our defensive shape and be more aggressive on the attack. Our season can take shape from here if we can mix those two things together with some balance.”
While the draw with Grand Haven wouldn’t improve their record, it could serve as a momentum shifter after a tough start to the 2017 season.
“Grand Haven is a good team, and they will have great season. We played a little bit toward a tie tonight, but we need to have more of an offensive bite later on in the season in order to make this tie mean something for us,” Thelen continued.
“It depends on where we go from here. We are going to play our tactics against the team we are up against and that’s what we did tonight. We played everyone on the roster and everyone contributed in some form or another.
“I’m happy for Ben Bouwhuis, Keaton Kval and Robbie Hartliep. Those three were our senior captains for this game, and they all know the Grand Haven kids pretty well. I think drawing a tie with them in this game was a positive for that group.”
Sophomore Malachi Mulder thought communication was the key for the Lakers in defending the Buccaneer attack.
“I think both sides played a really good defensive game,” he said. “For us, I know we shifted really well, which is something we have struggled with in the past. Today, we did a really good job talking, so that is good. It feels good to get a tie, especially because we have been struggling lately, so to finally hit our stride here feels good.”
The familiarity between the two rosters goes all the way back to youth soccer tournaments, which made Tuesday night’s game more competitive than the run-of-the-mill non-conference clashes.
“I do know some of the guys on their team,” Mulder added. “Some of my friends are on junior varsity, but I know most of the older guys, so it feels good to get a tie against them.
“There are a lot of guys on their team that I play with on the same club team or play against on other club teams that I have beef with. It makes this game more fun, to be able to play against guys that you know instead of just some random guy. It is good when your team is around you and everyone knows each other and battles with you against people you know.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Grand Haven senior forward Conner Lund was hoping to come out of Tuesday’s match with a win against his crosstown rivals.
“It’s a friendly rivalry, but it is bittersweet,” he said. “It is fun to see the guys again, but it sucks to have it go this way. The tie is so bittersweet. They were playing for it, they were excited, but for us, it hits pretty hard.
“Props to Spring Lake, I felt like every time one of our forwards turned, they had a guy on them, so they were pressuring hard. They were working their butts off. They were sitting a lot of guys back, and I think we just didn’t change up our strategy very well.
“They worked harder than us for most of the game. I think maybe some of our players came in with a chip on our shoulder and that wasn’t smart. I think both teams plan on winning every year, but I think that we should.”
Junior varsity: The Grand Haven junior varsity scored a dramatic, 2-1 comeback win over Spring Lake on Tuesday.
The Bucs (5-1, 1-1 O-K Red) completed the comeback with a last-gasp goal from sophomore Ivan Sokolow.
The rival teams played a back-and-forth scoreless first half, but the Lakers struck first. With nearly three quarters of the game gone, a Spring Lake player blistered a free kick from 25 yards out that found its way past the Grand Haven goalkeeper. The Bucs used the momentary deficit to mount their rally, however, with sophomore Dylan Fett slotting home a shot just four minutes later off an assist from classmate Carter Larned.
Sophomore Zack Falconer set up Sokolow's heroics with just 30 seconds left, capping a furious offensive effort by the Bucs.
Grand Haven's back line of sophomores Cole Horist, Kolton Hagadorn and freshmen Ethan Jhamb and Ethan Prins kept Spring Lake's potent attack largely at bay, while Tyler King manned the goal and made several key stops to preserve the win for the Bucs.