“We picked it up in the second half.”
Rose’s game-winner came off a fantastic run through the Lakers’ defense. He dumped the ball off to teammate Chad Buitenhuis, then exploded toward an opening in the Lakers’ defense. Buitenhuis made a smooth pass back to Rose, who held off a defender, then slid a shot back across his body and past Lakers’ goalie Harrison Kriger.
“I dropped it off, turned around and saw a big gap and just took off,” Rose said.
Grand Haven padded its lead with 10:14 remaining when Jake Vanderlaan ripped a bending shot that fooled Kriger and deflected off the keepers’ hands and into the net for a 3-1 advantage.
“I’m glad the second half went the way it did, because we were lucky to get out of the first half 1-1,” said Dean, whose team is now 5-0-3. “Spring Lake outworked us in the first half, and that’s been an issue for us.
“At halftime, my main points were, we needed to start acting like a team. We needed to start taking. Plus, we needed to take a little pride in what they’re doing. We had to find some passion. I called out a couple guys, talked about what their roles are. We told them to quit being fancy and just go out there and make a play.”
His team got the message loud and clear, and the Bucs took control against a Lakers’ team that entered the game ranked No. 2 in Division 2.
“We got our butts handed to us,” Lakers’ coach Jeremy Thelen said. “They hammered us. They were in our face every play, pressuring us up. There were no easy passes. We worked hard, but I don’t think we outworked them.”
The Lakers jumped out to a quick lead just 7:30 into the game when the Bucs’ defense mishandled a ball, allowing Austin Gabris to walk in one-on-one with Grand Haven goalie Ethan Beswick. Beswick charged out to cut down the angle, but Gabris calmly chipped a shot over Beswick and into the open net.
Grand Haven tied it with 2:40 remaining when the Bucs hit a cross that Kriger knocked down, but couldn’t handle. The ball ended up on the foot of Buitenhuis, who slid a shot inside the left post.
The Lakers nearly got the lead back early in the second half when a shot was chipped in over Beswick. The ball was heading into the open goal when Grand Haven defender Andrew Wadaga turned on the speed and cleared the ball away moments before it crossed the goal line.
“That was the play of the game,” Thelen said.
The game turned chippy in the closing minutes as players for both teams began to let their emotions show. Rose said the fact that so many of the players know each other well leads to a heated rivalry between the neighboring teams.
“We see these guys all the time, so this win gives you bragging rights,” he said.
“There was a lot of fire out there,” Thelen added. “There’s definitely a lot of emotion when these teams meet. They want to beat these guys. I want to beat them.”
Both teams next turn their attention to their respective conference seasons next Tuesday. The Buccaneers host Muskegon while the Lakers are home against Ludington.
Junior Varsity: Spring Lake scored a 2-0 victory over Grand Haven on Thursday.