For 65 minutes, Spring Lake’s varsity girls soccer team went toe-to-toe with a team that has won seven state championships over the past eight years.
But in the final 15 minutes, not much went right for the Lakers, who lost for the first time this spring in a 3-0 setback to Hudsonville Unity Christian.
The Defenders, ranked No. 3 in the state in Division 3 this spring, used a combination of deadly precision on the offensive end and two fortuitous calls, both resulting in penalty kicks, to score the win.
The first penalty kick, called with 17:30 remaining, actually didn’t result in a goal — Unity pushed its shot wide left — but that near-miss seemed to energize the Crusaders and deflate the host Lakers.
“At that point, they really gained some momentum, and things started to change,” said Lakers’ coach Jeremy Thelen, whose team is an honorable mention in the Division 2 state rankings.
Unity put its first goal in the back of the net with 15:51 remaining on a counterattack after the Lakers’ best-sustained offensive pressure of the half. The ball was cleared out of trouble by Unity, which took off on a 3-on-2 breakaway. The ball ended up on the foot of junior Aubrey Schierbeek, who slid a shot past Lakers’ goalie Nora Reed.
A minute later, the Lakers were called for another foul in their penalty box, and this time, Unity took advantage as sophomore Casandra Besteman buried a hard line drive penalty kick for a 2-0 lead.
Unity made it 3-0 when Schierbeek attacked down the left hand side and fired a quick pass across to Aubree DeRoo, who directed the ball past Reed.
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