Fruitport, on the other hand, claimed a share of the league crown thanks to a shootout victory over the rival Lakers, and in the process, regained a measure of respect that it had lost in an earlier setback at the hands of Spring Lake.
“This is definitely an adrenaline rush,” said junior Lauren Hazekamp, noting that her team hasn’t been the same since a disappointing loss to Spring Lake on May 9. “We’ve been in kind of a lull so it’s nice to get our name back out there. It’s great to win on their field.”
“We had to put our hearts back into the game,” added senior Linsye Haan as she clutched the league championship trophy. “We definitely lost that for a while. This is big to win this my senior year.”
Spring Lake defeated Fruitport two weeks ago to wrap up the regular-season league championship. The Lakers entered Monday’s contest intent on winning the conference crown outright. Despite being presented with the league championship trophy following the game, Spring Lake’s players weren’t content with the title of co-champs.
“There’s a sense of loss right now,” said Lakers’ coach Jeremy Thelen, whose team had won six consecutive games heading into Monday’s showdown. “It’s a little bit disappointing because it’s our home field.”
In the shootout, Fruitport’s Hazekamp, Haan, Beka German and Kelli Crow each buried their penalty kicks.
Spring Lake goalie Molly Cooke got her hands on two of the Trojans’ four shots, but couldn’t keep them out of the net.
Fruitport goalie Lindsay Armstrong made a diving save on the Lakers’ first shooter, and Spring Lake also missed a penalty shot. Emily Walling and Molly Miedema made their penalty shots for the Lakers.
Throughout 80 minutes of regulation play and two 10-minute overtime sessions, the Lakers defended their home field admirably. Defenders Leeann Latsch and Molly Miedema effectively teamed up to shut down the Trojans’ attack.
Spring Lake had a lion’s share of the game’s offensive chances, especially in the first half. Kelsey Fortier’s header on goal forced Armstrong to make a diving save just six minutes into the game, and three, Lakers’ attackers got in behind the Trojans’ defense. Twice, defender Beka German caught up and neutralized the threats while on a third occasion, Spring Lake’s Kelsey Kippe couldn’t collect the ball in time to get off a shot.
The scoreless first half allowed Fruitport’s confidence to swell, and just moments into the second half, the Trojans nearly broke the tie. A ball was played in over the head of Lakers’ goalie Molly Cooke, and a Trojan attacker at the back post chipped the ball toward the open net. The ball was heading into the goal when Latsch came out of nowhere to leap up and head the ball over the crossbar. Her momentum took her slamming into the goal post, but her dazzling effort kept the game scoreless.
Midway through the second half, Kippe got in behind German and the rest of the Trojans’ defenders, but Armstrong came off her line and made a fantastic sliding stop to turn away the Lakers’ best scoring threat of the game.
As the game progressed into the closing several minutes and overtimes, the players appeared to tire and the scoring chances dwindled, forcing a shootout to decide the winner.
The Trojans, despite playing in front of a very pro-Spring Lake crowd, calmly converted on all four of their penalty kicks.
“We talked before the game, make or miss, we’re all together 100 percent,” Hazekamp said. “It’s a mind game out there. You just have to focus on what you’re doing.”
“You have to block everything out,” Haan added. “It’s just you out there. But you definitely can hear their crowd. It can be mind-rattling.”
This was Spring Lake’s final game before turning its attention to next week’s Class B district tournament while Fruitport will meet Grand Haven on Friday evening.