With a victory almost assured Monday evening, Spring Lake senior Jack McKeough added the finishing touches to the Lakers' triumph in the fourth period with a shot for a goal over his back shoulder that definitely earned style points for difficulty and creativity.
Feeling somewhat dejected, a Grandville player trudged to the sidelines and voiced his frustrations to head coach Mike Avery: "What are we going to do about that?" he said.
For more photos from Monday's game, click here.
Grandville is facing many difficult questions as a first-year program, the same tough questions that Spring Lake faced as it got its feet wet in the sport four years ago. Now, that Lakers' freshmen class that endured a bumpy road are seniors and are experiencing much more smooth sailing.
Spring Lake honored its 15 seniors in a pregame ceremony, came out flat in the first period against Grandville, but dominated the Bulldogs the rest of the way in a 15-5 final.
With the victory, Spring Lake improves to 7-2 this season.
“We’re not looking to lose any more games on our schedule,” said Lakers’ senior attacker Collin Betten, who led his team with six goals. “This is the best it’s been since the (the program) started.”
If the Lakers are looking to run the table, they’ll have to overcome one big obstacle in neighboring rival Grand Haven, who has just one loss this season. Spring Lake hosts the Bucs on Saturday, May 4.
“We talk about them every practice,” Betten said.
Betten admitted the Lakers might have been looking past the Bulldogs in the early going, but they were quickly sent back down to earth after Grandville surged to an early 2-1 lead after one period.
“Until the whistle blows, you’re never sure how your team is going to respond,” said Spring Lake coach Doug Sharp. “We came out flat, no doubt. Our passing was shaky and we were running right past ground balls all night long. I had one kid tell me he was too fast and he was running right past ground balls.”
Betten said Grandville made a focus at locking up Spring Lake’s leading scorer, McKeough, in the early going and it took the Lakers a little while to adjust.
“We pushed hard 1-on-1 with the defense and we got it done,” he said.
Spring Lake upped its intensity on the defensive end and began forcing several turnovers that transformed into productive counter attacks. The Lakers outscored the Bulldogs 5-0 in the second period, with Betten and junior Collin Roberts each scoring twice.
The Lakers’ ‘D’ turned in another key stretch at the end of the period with Grandville holding a man advantage with 30 seconds on the clock. Spring Lake dialed up the pressure again and held the Bulldogs to without a shot on senior goalie Daniel Zwart.
The Lakers’ defensive unit was led by Gabe Giddings, Grant James and Cory Stratz, while junior midfielder Chase Slagboom created havoc all evening with his blazing speed.
“Our defense has really been playing well,” Sharp said. “They’ve been shutting people down. What I like is that we’ve been able to get one take-away and then run the ball right down the field for some shots on goal.”
Grandville scored the opening goal in the third period, but the Lakers put on a clinic the rest of the way, outscoring the ‘Dawgs 5-0 to take an 11-3 advantage. The Lakers had a pair of goals that shattered the Bulldogs’ spirits.
The first was a fireball from about 15 yards away by sophomore Michael Tomaszczyk with 1:09 left in the third that slipped into the net despite a crowd of players in front of the goal. The Lakers showed true persistence with time running down in the period, as defenseman Jackson Falkowski controlled an errant pass with 10 seconds left, kept a cool head and found Roberts left alone. Roberts charged and fired in a low shot with just one second left on the clock that left Bulldogs’ coaches furious with the lack their team’s focus.
McKeough had four goals, Roberts added three, and Harrison Palmer also found the back of the net for Spring Lake.
Zwart and sophomore Drew Carey split time in goal for the Lakers, who return to action on Saturday at Grand Rapids Christian.