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Spring Lake girls soccer team prepares for another regional run

Josh VanDyke • Jun 5, 2018 at 2:00 AM

After falling in the regional finals in heartbreaking fashion last spring, the Spring Lake girls soccer team has been motivated to get back to the Elite Eight of the Division 2 field again and get some redemption.

Before they can plot revenge on the Huskies of Forest Hills Northern, however, the Lakers (17-2) must find a way to overcome a list of injuries to star players and slow down an up-and-coming program in the Byron Center Bulldogs (15-4-1) in today's regional semifinal match at Holland Christian High School (7 p.m.).

"We had a really good practice today, but most of the starters were getting treatment for bumps and bruises they've been dealing with," said Spring Lake head coach Becky May after practice on Monday. "Unfortunately, Keara (Fritsche) is out for the rest of the postseason with an ankle injury, but we're hoping to have Emily Batts back for (today's) game. She took a knee to the hip early on in the Fruitport game, and she could barely even walk after that.

"She's been treating it with ice, heat and stretching, and we'll see where she's at come game time. Emily is as fierce a competitor as there is, so I'm sure if she can walk, she'll be trying to run in time for the game. She's blazing fast out there, and we are a completely different team with her and Laney (Peasley) on the attack."

While the team will wait and see if their senior standout forward will be part of the action, a few other pivotal players were also dealing with minor ailments but are expected to be ready in time for the game tonight.

"Laney and Phoebe (Saunders) were also out of practice today, but we're expecting them to be ready to go," added May. "Both of them took some hard falls on collisions during Saturday's game, so they just needed some extra time to ice up and stretch. It's been a battle out there since mid-March, so everyone is dealing with something, so we're just trying to be smart as we get ready for the biggest game of our season yet."

Other than one-goal losses to Mona Shores (1-0) and Grand Rapids Catholic Central (2-1), the Lakers have steamrolled the competition on their way to an O-K Blue Conference Championship and their fourth straight district title.

On the season, Spring Lake has outscored their opponents 97-6 and has only allowed a multi-goal game once.

"We really believe that if we play to our abilities and enforce our style of play on a game, there are not many teams in the state that can stick with us," said May. "We stay aggressive from start to finish and we have so much experience at key positions.

"Even the sophomores on our team are experienced because they've been playing club ball since they were seven. This is a great group of kids and they are all motivated to keep this thing going."

If the Lakers are without some of their key players, that may mean more minutes for some key reserves.

"If Emily or any of our forwards or midfielders can't play, then Madeline Zenas will see an increased role," May added. "She's been a substitute for us all season and she's really turned it up a notch late in the spring. "She had a big goal for us in that second half against Fruitport, and I think that was a big boost to our confidence as we get ready for Byron Center."

SCOUTING REPORT: Byron Center

Head Coach: Kelly Conlon (second year)

KEY PLAYERS: senior goalkeeper Alaina Blickley, seniors Kaitlyn Lay, Paige Huyser, Grace Reinsch, and Marilyn Nguyen.

ROAD TO THE REGIONAL

District opener: Defeated Allendale (4-0)

District Semifinals: Defeated Hamilton (1-0) via penalty-kick shootout

District Finals: Defeated Zeeland East (2-1) via penalty-kick shootout

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