Coach Doug Sharp’s squad will still play a similar schedule, but will have much more at stake as a varsity team.
“The biggest difference, when it comes down to it, is being qualified to play in the state tournament,” Sharp said. “As a club, when the last game’s played, we’re done, and everyone else goes on to the playoffs. To be eligible to play in the state playoffs, gives the kids something to work for at the end of the season.
“We’ll be able to measure ourselves against other teams at the end, and it’s a nice way to reward the kids.”
The Lakers graduated several players off last year’s club team and have just three seniors back on this squad. That group includes team captains Joey Rohloff, a long stick middie; Hayden Jermstad, an attackman; and Peter Rick, also an attackman.
“We have some nice senior leadership to get us on the field,” Sharp said. “Then we’ve got a real young midfield with Harrison Palmer, a sophomore, and Michael Tomaszczyk, a freshman. They’re both phenomenal young guys who have really taken up the game. They’ve been working hard to get better day in and day out.”
Sharp is excited about the play of Jack McKeough, a junior now in his third year starting in the attack, along with Dan Zwart, a goalie who is also a third-year varsity performer.
In front of Zwart is a strong trio of defenders — Jacob Giddings, Jackson Falkowski and Grant Jones.
“That’s a nice group of guys who have some legs, some stick skills,” Sharp said. “I have high hopes for how they’re going to play.”
The Lakers have come a long way since they started their program a few years back. They opened their current season with a competitive 11-4 loss to Grand Rapids Northview. They lost to the same Northview team two years ago, 18-0.
“It’s nice to see we’re getting closer,” Sharp said. “The game felt closer than the score indicated. We’re definitely improving, but it’s tough to bypass experience. There’s no substitute for time on a lacrosse field. We feel like we’re doing a nice job closing that gap on the local competition.”
Sharp and is Spring Lake team is looking forward to April 28, when they’ll compete in an all-day lacrosse fest at Grand Haven. The
Buccaneers and the Lakers will put their middle school teams on the field together in the morning, followed by middle schools boys games, middle school girls and the varsity boys showdown.
BUCCANEER BOYS LOOK STRONG
Grand Haven’s varsity boys lacrosse team features a loaded lineup this year, including a pair of players pledged to play varsity lacrosse in college.
The team is fairly young, consisting predominantly of juniors and sophomores, but seniors Matt Burns and Gerrit Boone are a pair of seniors whole have taken over as leaders of the squad. They’re also both committed to play lacrosse at the next level. Burns will play at Stevenson University while Boone will play at Aurora University. Both are NCAA Division III programs.
Leading the Bucs’ attack this year will be senior Cole Curtis, who scored three goals in the team’s season-opening win against Grand Rapids Christian. Burns is also an attackman, along with sophomore Trevor McNamara.
Junior Jeff Olsen is strong in the midfield while junior captain Dan Gignac will play between the pipes as the Bucs’ goalie.
Grand Haven got off to a strong start to the season, coming back from a 4-1 deficit with seven unanswered goals to defeat Grand Rapids Christian.
“Grand Rapids Christian beat us twice last year, so it felt good to get that win,” said coach Murle Greer. “The guys showed a lot of heart and composure being down early and fought their way back for a solid conference win.”
The Buccaneers also beat Grand Rapids Catholic Central this week, giving them a 2-0 record heading into their week off for Spring Break.
HAVEN GIRLS REBUILDING
Grand Haven’s varsity girls lacrosse team is in full rebuilding mode, according to coach Kim Vincent.
“We have nine new girls, and a lot of them have never played lacrosse before,” she said. “We’re going up against teams that have played since middle school together while we’re still working on fundamentals.”
The Bucs’ inexperience has showed in their first two games — a 16-3 loss to Grand Rapids Christian and a 14-1 setback against Mattawan.
The Bucs also experienced a significant blow before the season started when two team members — Danielle Michaels and Brittney Olds — were seriously injured in a car accident while heading to East Lansing to watch the Buccaneers’ girls basketball team play in the state semifinals. Michaels has since been released from the hospital while Olds remains in a coma two weeks after the horrific accident.
Vincent said her team’s thoughts and prayers are with their injured teammates.
“We’ve had a moment of silence before our first two games, and that’s just to keep our heads and our thoughts to the heeling of these girls,” Vincent said. “We’re playing in honor of the two girls who are sisters in lacrosse.”
On the field, Vincent is encouraged by the improvement she’s seen from her young players, including goalie Stephanie Szymas. Emma Saber gives the Bucs a strong, experienced player on the attack.
The trio of Carlee Klingenberg, Megan VanDorn and Hillary Land give the Buccaneers a solid defense, while Paige Sloan has also played in goal, but a shoulder injury may force her to play in the field instead.
Lauren Lund is a senior playing lacrosse for her first time, while youngsters Mackenzie Anderson, Olivia Saber, Casey Davis and Claire Reenders are freshmen who could contribute this year.
“They’re pretty courageous young ladies,” Vincent said. “They’re all out here to learn, to do better, to improve. They’re very coachable and are working very had to get faster on the field.”