Jeremy Thelen admits he had no idea what to expect from this year’s Spring Lake varsity girls soccer team.
Sure, he had a handful of starters back from last year’s team.
But the Lakers also featured newcomers from a wide range of backgrounds.
Sisters Abby and Courtney Dockery moved to Spring Lake from Tucson, Ariz.
Alex Prout joined the Lakers after playing at Grand Haven last year.
Saebryn Peel and Morgan Carey were brought up to the team as freshmen and quickly established themselves as starters, bumping more experienced players out of the starting lineup.
The results have been better than anyone could have imagined.
Spring Lake improved to 17-2 on the season with Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Coopersville in the Div. 2 district championship game.
With the win, the Lakers advance to the regional tournament, where they’ll face Grand Rapids Christian tonight at 5 p.m. at Holland High School.
“I didn’t know what this team would be like to put together, but they’ve been great,” Thelen said following Saturday’s win. “But they’ve been great. They’ve really come together well.”
It helps that those newcomers have been key contributors to this year’s success.
Abby Dockery, a senior midfielder, isn’t a big scoring threat, but she’s scored three of her team’s biggest goals this season. She put balls in the back of the net in both Fruitport games, and scored the Lakers’ winning goal against Coopersville on Saturday.
“I was surprised it went in,” Dockery said with a laugh. “I’m just so excited. I love this team. I can from Tucson, Ariz., and my old team, we just were not working together. We didn’t mix well. This team mixes so well. They’re so great. It’s a great group of girls.”
If Spring Lake hopes to achieve its dream of advancing deeper into the state tournament, they’ll have to emerge from the toughest regional in the state. The Lakers are ranked No. 9 by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association. They’ll face No. 5 Grand Rapids Christian tonight, while the second game at Holland High features No. 8 Plainwell and No. 10 Forest Hills Northern.
Read more of this story in today's print edition or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.