In a game full of physicality, the Lakers ran away with a 6-1 victory, denying the Bucs any freedom to operate on offense with a stalwart back line and chewing up clock with persistent possession.
The scoring got started early, as Spring Lake forward Emily Batts volleyed a nifty lob pass from Phoebe Saunders over a charging Grand Haven keeper with 34:28 left in the first half.
Grand Haven responded instantly, taking the ball into the Spring Lake box for a shot. The ball fell short but the Lakers botched the clear attempt, allowing Alli Keyser to collect and fire home a goal at the 33:50 mark.
From there, it was all Spring Lake. Saunders picked up her second assist of the day with 26:52 left in the half, sending a breakaway through ball to a charging Laney Peasley to go up 2-1.
With just under eight minutes to play, the Bucs’ physical play got the best of them with a push in the box, handing the Lakers a penalty kick. Taylor Colquitt sent the goal home despite a great dive by Grand Haven’s keeper.
At the half, Spring Lake led 3-1.
The Bucs got right to work in the second half, taking the opening possession down the field for their best look yet, but the shot from Keyser flew high and out of bounds. Spring Lake responded with a goal, this time off the head of Saunders, as Tia Leary played a perfect cross into the box two minutes into the second half.
The Lakers continued to push the pace, eating up game time with intentional possession while the Bucs frantically tried to work the ball to their forwards.
Peasley struck again with 26 minutes remaining, winning a footrace for a loose ball and holding off her defender for the length of the field, eventually zipping a shot past Grand Haven’s charging keeper.
With 10 minutes left to play, the Lakers sealed the deal on a long-range shot by Madeline Zenas, arcing a perfect ball from the sideline into the far side of the net.
Both teams now face a quick turnaround as Grand Haven hosts O-K Red Conference foe Grandville on Monday at 7:15 and Spring Lake hosts O-K Blue Conference foe Comstock Park on Monday at 6:45.
Check out Monday’s print edition of the Tribune for a full breakdown of the game with reactions from players and coaches.