It was like a scene from a movie.
The Fruitport and Spring Lake soccer teams were in the midst of a sudden death shootout after they had matched each other in regulation, two overtime periods and an initial five-man shootout.
The two squads had been going tit for tat in the second shootout as well, with all six players finding the net.
Spring Lake goalie Joe Czajaka put an end to that, diving to swat away Kyle Winger’s shot.
The Lakers’ players got excited on the sideline.
After dominating the rivaly in recent years, Spring Lake had lost both of its matchups to Fruitport this season. Both losses came at the Fruitport Soccer Complex, the scene of Thursday night’s action as well.
The next shot could erase that pain. The next shot could advance the Lakers to the Division 2 district championship game.
Up stepped Ryan Zietlow.
At around 5-feet, 4-inches tall, the freshmen was the smallest player on the field. A JV call-up for the state touranment, Zietlow had not played a single moment of varsity action. His jersey had not touched the rain-soaked field.
Yet he nailed it.
The players and crowd went wild as the Lakers advanced, 2-1.
As a result, Spring Lake will head back to Fruitport on Saturday to face Kenowa Hills at 5 p.m. for the district championship.
“I was pumped,” Zietlow said of the moments after his goal. “I just ran out on the field celebrating.”
Spring Lake coach Jeremy Thelen said he had confidence in his guys from the top to bottom of his roster, and trusted JV coach Phil VanRees to decide who to use in the shootout.
“(Zietlow) was hitting them on the JV team all season long, and as soon as we get to that I’m always looking for the finesse guys,” Thelen said. “We had kind of gone through some of our power guys, and we were like, ‘Let’s take a risk with it.’
“First of all, Joe put us in a great spot. He made two saves, they missed one. That (last) save was obviously a huge save for us, to put Ryan in the spot to win. Ryan (was) calm, cool and collected. (That’s) good stuff from him.”
Zietlow might disagree with that assertion. His outward demeanor was hiding his inner emotions.
“I was really nervous,” Zietlow said. “I just wanted to place it good, and not mess up.”
The kick capped off a grueling back-and-forth contest between two evenly-matched teams.
Spring Lake and Fruitport took turns at the wheel throughout regulation, with neither club able to capitalize.
The Lakers struck first in the initial overtime period.
Nic Ellingboe’s shot ricocheted off a Fruitport defender before teammate Keegan George found it, placing it in the net.
The Trojans scored the equalizer in the next period — in a similar fashion.
A hard shot by Andrew Frost bounced off Czajka, allowing Noah Hendricks to score off the rebound.
Neither team was able to score again, sending the game to a shootout.
“So close,” said Fruitport coach Greg Kobylak, whose team won the Lakes Eight Conference championship this fall. “There were a couple off the post today in regulation, and a couple other really close ones. It was an epic battle between two evenly matched teams."
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