Having his young daughter Emerson provide a celebratory hug only aided in his emotion.
And Thelen’s players? Forget stoic. The Lakers’ emphatic celebration, complete with hugs and resounding yells of joy, was understandably expected.
“It’s pure excitement,” said senior defender Michael Zietlow. “Especially with this being my senior year, it’s just amazing. I don’t even know what to say. My heart is still racing.”
Spring Lake (23-1 overall) became the first boys soccer team in school history to advance to a state championship game, as the Lakers took care of business by pitching another shutout — their fifth of the postseason.
The Lakers’ closest call came in their 4-3 overtime win against Reeths-Puffer in the district finals, but that’s a distant memory on an inspired path to a potential state title. Standing in the way of that will be Auburn Hills Avondale, which defeated Bloomfield Hills Andover in Wednesday’s other D-2 semifinal. The championship game will be held at Troy Athens High School with a 3 p.m. start on Saturday.
Thelen talked about his team buying into playing “defensive soccer,” during opening practices and the Lakers executed that style to perfection again, this time against the Wildcats (17-4-1).
“These guys had it in their hearts that this is what they wanted to do,” Spring Lake coach Jeremy Thelen said. “At this point, bounces have to go your way and the team has to work hard, calls have to go your way. Our kids battled.”
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