This spring should be no different; as all four programs will boast some of the largest participation numbers they’ve seen since their inception. The biggest challenge facing these squads is experience.
The Spring Lake boys team will be replacing a talented senior class that accounted for the majority of the team’s scoring in 2016, while the Grand Haven boys team hopes their veteran core can mesh well with the up-and-coming playmakers that are playing at the varsity level for the first time.
On the girls side, it will be the Grand Haven girls that are replacing a large portion of its offensive production with young standouts, while the Spring Lake girls team will be bringing back a core group that helped the team to instant success in only its first year as a varsity sport.
Here’s a deeper look at what the area lacrosse programs will look like this spring:
Last year: 5-12 overall, finished sixth of eight in the O-K Rainbow Tier 1, lost to Lansing Waverly in pre-regionals.
Key returners: senior goalie Gabe Libertreu (Queens University of Charlotte commit), senior midfielder Alex Weykamp, senior midfielder Zack Morse (Western Michigan University commit), senior attack Alex Franczek, senior attack Luke Kaelin (Western Michigan University commit), senior midfielder Austin Jarvis (Western Michigan University commit), senior defenseman Drake Morley and junior long-stick midfielder Brandon Diaz.
Key newcomers: sophomore long-stick midfielders Trevor Holleman and Kyle Eveland.
Quoting coach Lee Ingalls: “We should surprise some teams this spring. We have a strong group of seniors (12), and a nice blend of underclassmen. The guys played a lot of lacrosse through the summer and fall and were committed to the offseason conditioning and training. We have great team chemistry and a general excitement and enthusiasm to play.
“We're looking to finish in the top four of our conference tier and be sharpened by the tough conference competition going into the playoffs. The expectation is to compete and be competitive in every game.
ON TEAM MOTTO
“I asked the senior leadership group to come up with their theme for the season, and they choose "all hands on deck". That speaks to the need for everyone to step up and contribute. It can't be just the seniors; it has to be everyone working together.
“Our success is directly related to our effort. Competing for and contesting every loose ball, every possession, offensively and defensively, counts. We want to be efficient, so nothing can be wasted. Competing and being competitive in every game is the result of our hustle and effort. Our goal is to out hustle and out work our opponents; that starts in practice.”
Last year: 8-8 overall, lost in first round of regionals to Grosse Pointe South.
Key returners: senior team captains Calvin Frifeldt (defense), Nate Nass (midfield) and Josef Hissom (midfield), sophomore Noah Verlinde (defense, committed to Marquette), sophomore Brant Verlinde (goalie), senior Gavin DeVries (long-stick mid), senior Isiah Griswold (attack), Alex Englesman (midfield), Max White (midfield)
Key newcomers: Keegan O’Donnell, Nick Lauinger, sophomores Colby Brown (attack and, Dominik Molotky (attack), Gavin Alban (midfielder), Mitch Payne (long-stick mid)
Quoting coach Doug Sharp: “With our young team, we'll look to gain confidence with each game. We have the talent to compete at a very high level. We just need to trust each other to maximize our potential. With Spring Lake moving into the O-K Conference this year, we are excited at the opportunity to compete with great lacrosse programs like Forest Hills Central, East Grand Rapids, Rockford, Forest Hills Northern, Forest Hills Eastern, West Ottawa and Grand Haven.
“Forest Hills Central and East Grand Rapids are perennially battling for the state championship, so to have them in our conference only makes us better.”
ON STATE OF PROGRAM
“In our 10th year as a program, we continue to build toward excellence, and this year looks very promising. I'm proud to say that we've always had exceptional students on our squad, and this year is no exception, with 17 of the 22 members on the Honor Roll last semester.”
Last year: 17-5, 6-1 in O-K Conference, lost to eventual state champion Rockford in third round of regionals.
Key players: senior goalie Autumn Eslick (Trine University commit), junior Maddie Brockmyre, senior Jordyn Spruit, senior Haley LaFrance, junior Lexi Nesbitt, senior Sarah Sanders, senior Laura Reuterdahl, junior Jerica Tallman, senior Brooke Lonergan (Barton College commit), senior Libby Plowman, junior Isabel Andrini, senior Liz Nowak, junior Paige Kramer and junior Christina Byrne.
Quoting coach Scott Sweet-Christian: “Even though we have a younger team this year, we bring more overall athleticism to the field then we have in the past four years. We will be looking to improve our state ranking this year by playing a stronger schedule outside of our conference such as East Lansing, Ann Arbor Pioneer, Midland Dow, Portage, and Dewitt. We will also be taking on Forest Hills (No. 2) and Caledonia (No. 11). The toughest opponent that we face in our conference, by far, is Spring Lake. West Ottawa and Lowell will be tough as well.
“Our girls continue to build the Grand Haven program, while maintaining a competitive nature and having fun. Our program is built not only around an aggressive attitude, but more importantly, working together to spread the ball around. No one person is key in scoring, as we all share in the winning process. This attitude has helped our program expand to our current number of over 100 girls this year in our system. This is a credit to our kids both present and past.”
Last year: 10-5
Key players: senior team captain Megan Ready (attack), junior team captain Emily Sievertsen, senior team captain Grace VandenBosch, sophomore Kate Vinkemulder (midfielder), sophomore goalies Paris Heard and Lauren Sharp and sophomore McKenzie Ely.
Quoting coach Jason Vinkemulder: “With 10 returning starters, we should have a strong season. Most of the players participated in our winter conditioning program, and it’s made a huge difference in their stamina and strength. It’s our second year as a school sport, and our first year in a conference, so winning the conference title would be great. Last year, we ended the season in the top 10 in the state in Division 2, so I’m hoping to build on that.
“I am most proud of each player’s attitude and the great sportsmanship they consistently display. This team exhibits tenacity and class, while still competing at a very high level."