There was no spirited celebration when the final whistle blew on Spring Lake’s 4-0 girls soccer win over Fruitport — a victory that wrapped up a seventh consecutive Lakes Eight title for the host Lakers.
Coach Jeremy Thelen thought it might be because his team is so new, with several players coming over from other programs or moving up from lower levels, that they simply don’t appreciate the accomplishment.
The Lakers’ players had a different theory.
“It felt like we dominated the whole game, so I don’t know why, but it didn’t feel like as much of a rivalry as it usually does,” said Lakers’ senior defender Hailey Pellegrom.
“I think we were expecting more from them,” added fellow defender Becca Boven.
The Lakers had good reason to expect a fierce battle from the rival Trojans. The past two years, the teams had gone to a shootout in the championship game of the league tournament. Fruitport won in a shootout in 2011 to claim a share of the league crown, while Spring Lake won in a shootout last year, wrapping up the outright title.
Monday’s convincing win gave the Lakers another outright league crown, but with the Division 2 district tournament on the horizon, Spring Lake was in no mood to celebrate.
“We’re a weird team in that we have so many new people that the conference championship, some of them don’t get what it means,” said Thelen, whose team is now 14-1 on the season and ranked No. 9 in the latest Division 2 state poll. “But this is big for our seniors. The last two years, this game has gone into a shootout, so this was big for them.”
The Lakers drained any drama from the game with a pair of first-half goals. First, Mariada Gezon scored to give her team an early lead. Then, with 13:50 remaining in the half, Leeann Latsch fired a direct kick from 19 yards out that found its way through a wall of Trojans’ defenders and bounced off goalie Monica Holden and into the net.
Early in the second half, a great move by Gezon led to the Lakers’ third goal. She got behind the Trojans’ defense, then juked past Holden, sending the ball out wide for Latsch to slide a shot into the open net.
Spring Lake made it 4-0 when Abby Dockerty drilled in a shot from the right side that eluded a diving Holden.
The lead was more than enough for Spring Lake’s defense, which has allowed just four goals this year — three of which came in a 3-0 loss to Hudsonville Unity Christian. The fourth was scored by Fruitport two weeks ago.
Spring Lake’s defense took a hit recently when it was learned that starting sweeper Courtney Dockery tore the ACL in her knee, meaning she’ll miss the rest of the season.
Alex Prout and Boven have shared time at that position, along with Ayna Gordon.
That group has greatly limited the action for goalie Nora Reed, who barely got her hands on the ball on Monday.
“It’s good that she gets a little bored back there,” Boven said with a laugh. “We’ve had to pull it all together.”
“We really trust each other,” added Prout, who moved to Spring Lake from Grand Haven during the offseason.
The Lakers close out their regular season against Holland Christian on Thursday, then will host Sparta in the Division 2 district tournament next week Tuesday.
“Yes, we want to be conference champs, but we’re also looking to make a run,” Thelen said. “We’ve put ourselves in a position to be considered among the state’s best teams. Now we’ll have a chance to prove it.”
Junior Varsity: The Lakers mercied the Trojans, 8-0. Nora Adkins scored a hat trick for the Lakers, who are now 9-0-5. Mairead Cooper and Dani Rhem each scored twice, while Alli Michalak also scored.