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5 Things to Watch this Week

Josh VanDyke • Apr 19, 2016 at 6:30 AM

It’s rivalry week for most local sports teams, as numerous adversaries will meet on the turf, track or pool in heated matchups.

The Grand Haven boys lacrosse team will collide with two of its biggest rivals this week: West Ottawa on Thursday and Spring Lake on Saturday. The Bucs finished 0-2 against the Panthers and 0-1 against the Lakers last spring, and will be looking for revenge.

Here are some other key events you won’t want to miss this week:

Grand Haven boys golf Invitational

When: Today, 3:30 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven Golf Course

The Grand Haven boys golf team will host its only true home invitational of the season today for the Buccaneer Invitational at the Grand Haven Golf Course. Teams from all across the state are expected to attend the event, in what will be a tough early season test for a Buccaneers squad that barely missed qualifying for the state finals last season.

Seniors Tyler VandenBrand and Alex Christiansen lead a deep and talented Grand Haven team this spring that looks to challenge for the O-K Red conference crown.

Lakes Eight Conference track Jamborees

When: Today, 3:45 p.m.

Where: Fruitport and Spring Lake High Schools

Teams: Spring Lake, Fruitport, Muskegon Catholic Central, Fremont, Ludington, Orchard View.

Spring Lake and Fruitport will both be hosting conference triangular meets today in what will be an opening salvo for what the rest of the Lakes Eight conference season might look like. While they won’t be meeting head-to-head, both the Lakers and the Trojans will be keeping tabs on each other.

The Spring Lake girls squad will be heavy favorites to defend their conference crown, but the Fruitport girls appeared poised to challenge an impressive five-year dual meet unbeaten streak for the Lakers.

On the boys side, it’s the Trojans who will be the favorites to repeat as conference champs. Fruitport has won the Lakes Eight for three consecutive seasons and has been team champions at the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association city meet for two years in a row.

Grand Haven vs. West Ottawa boys lacrosse

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven High School

Round one of rivalry week for the Grand Haven boys lacrosse team will be hosting West Ottawa (0-6) on Thursday night. The Panthers got the best of the Bucs in both meetings last year, 9-6 and 11-6, but this year’s Grand Haven squad appears to have the right combination of experience and talent to right the ship.

Grand Haven currently sits at 2-3 overall, with wins over Reeths-Puffer (12-4) and Mattawan (9-7) and losses to Zeeland (14-2), Northview (11-8) and Forest Hills Northern (14-7).

Junior goalie Gabe Liebetreu, who recently tied a state record for saves in a single game (30), anchors the Grand Haven defense along with junior Noah Brackenbury. On offense, sophomore long-stick midfielder Jon Hoffman, senior midfielder Kane Wilkinson, and sophomore midfield attack Braxton Wert will be counted on as key contributors.

Grand Haven girls water polo vs. West Ottawa

When: Thursday, 6 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven High School

The Grand Haven girls water polo team hosts conference rival West Ottawa on Thursday in what will likely be an emotional exchange between both clubs. Grand Haven will be looking to turn things around after losing five straight contests to Grandville (7-5), East Kentwood (10-7), Forest Hills (16-15), Rockford (18-5), and Grandville (9-6).

West Ottawa has had its own share of struggles as of late with a combined 0-6-1 record in its last seven contests. The winner of this matchup might not only get bragging rights, but a second chance at turning around its season.

Grand Haven vs. Spring Lake boys lacrosse

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: Spring Lake High School

After an emotional rivalry game against West Ottawa, the Grand Haven boys lacrosse team travels across the bridge to Spring Lake on Saturday for another shot at revenge.

Last year’s matchup saw the Lakers hold on for a dramatic 8-7 win over the Bucs, the first in the program’s history. Can the Lakers build on last year’s momentum or will be Bucs turn the table on this budding rivalry?

Seniors Alec and Chase Palmer, Tyler Strandberg, Nathaniel Hantschel and junior goalie Josef Hissom will be players to watch for the Lakers, who currently sit at 3-1 on the season with wins over Portage Central (8-6), West Ottawa (12-6) and Hudsonville after opening the season with a 10-4 loss to Forest Hills Eastern.

Regardless of the outcome, the matchups against West Ottawa and Spring Lake will help Grand Haven prepare for the rest of the season.

“West Ottawa and Spring Lake will be key games for us as far as seeing how far we’ve come as a team,” said Grand Haven head coach Lee Ingalls earlier this season. “We’ve got a brutal conference schedule and everyone in the area is a rising program. The keys for us will be continuing to improve after every game and surviving the grind of a fast-paced season.”

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