The visiting Lakers scored five unanswered goals to knot the game at seven and shift the momentum wildly with nine minutes still remaining on the scoreboard.
That’s when Grand Haven head coach Lee Ingalls called a timeout.
On the ensuing possession, junior midfielder Quinn Reiger scored to give the Buccaneers a lead they would never relinquish, as they held on for a 9-7 win over Spring Lake to sweep the season series.
‘That was big,” Ingalls said of Reiger’s goal. “After we called that timeout, the guys got back on the same page and got back to work. They just kept working hard on winning the little battles. That resulted in us getting some key possessions, and Quinn scored that goal to really help stop Spring Lake’s momentum and give us a little back.”
Senior Alex Franczek scored four goals and added one assist to lead the Bucs, while Alex Weykamp added one goal and four assists.
Rieger scored two goals, while John Garvale and Austin Fox each added one.
Goalie Gabe Liebetreu recorded 18 saves in net to record the win.
“We gave our hard hat to the entire defensive unit tonight,” Ingalls said of the team’s postgame ceremony of awarding one player with a hard hat as the game’s hardest worker. “We have a few guys that are designated to play defensive midfield, and they don’t get a lot of offensive looks, but they really lock down the middle of the field for us.
“Gabe made some great saves in net, too. Drake (Morley), Noah (Brackenbury), Kyle Eveland, (Brandon) Diaz and (Trevor) Holleman were all working together. O.J. (Owen Jennings) and Brad Robertson were also big for us, too.”
Ingalls was happy to see some offensive players turn up the aggression in key moments, as well.
“We’ve been trying to get John (Garvale) to be more selfish out there,” he said. “He has tremendous offensive skill, and he’s one of the fastest guys on the team. He just needed a confidence boost. I think he’s getting there, and tonight, he made a few big plays.”
After an emotional three games in four days, Ingalls had the team go through some unconventional measures to build back some team chemistry.
“After Monday’s game against Forest Hills Eastern, we were pretty low,” he admitted. “We didn’t have much energy in that game, and there was a lot of standing around. We had a good gameplan to attack their zone, and we just didn’t execute.
“On Tuesday, we held a kids’ clinic at Lakeshore Middle School with the varsity guys showing all the younger kids the basics and fundamentals. That was a fun way for us to take a breath and recharge a little bit. Then, last night, we had a team meeting and let everyone on the team say something. We went around in a circle about four times, and we all got everything off our chest.
“I think that was a big moment for our team. We laid everything out there on table and grew together.”
Grand Haven officially records a sweep over their crosstown rivals for the regular season in a matchup that means more to both sides due to proximity.
“We love those guys, and we hate those guys,” Ingalls said. “We’ve got other rivalries, but these guys are right across the river from us. I fully expected Spring Lake to come in here and battle, and they never gave up.
“We had seven or eight penalties in that third quarter, but Spring Lake was determined, too. We didn’t fold under that pressure, though. The hustle, effort and determination helped us regain that momentum to make the winning plays late, but Spring Lake made us earn it in that second half.”
LAKERS BATTLE BACK
For Spring Lake, the young Lakers squad didn’t open the game with the same intensity they played with last Saturday on their home turf.
“There’s a lot of pressure in an environment like this,” said Spring Lake head coach Doug Sharp. “Friday night, under the lights, against your crosstown rival. All these kids know each other and grew up with each other, so it’s an emotional game on both sides. It makes it hard to do the right thing at the right time in tight situations like that.
“I got a locker room full of guys who are probably pretty darn frustrated right now and rightfully so. You want to be able to execute like you can every other day of the week, then game day is a little tougher.”
Colby Brown and Caleb Montgomery each scored two goals to lead the Lakers, while Alec Kieft, Dominik Molotky and Nate Nass each added one.
Brant Verlinde made six saves in net.
“That was better than the last one, and we keep getting a little better and a little better with each game,” Sharp added. “I thought we had played well in the first half, but we weren’t finishing. We would make three or four good passes and the fifth pass we would drop. In the third quarter, it started to click, we made those passes and made it a game, tied it up. Then, adversity happens and we stopped executing again. We would have one or two good plays then the third would be a drop. It just comes with youth and inexperience.”
Sharp wasn’t happy with the amount of backside goals the team gave up early on in the game.
“It was probably a little too much ball watching on our defense, and a nice attack of three or four passes and finding that the open guy backside on transition. They did a nice job of changing up their clears. Last Saturday, we had their number on the clears. I think tonight, they made some changes.
“Tonight, on some of our rides, we got caught in transition. We were subbing off early last week, and we started doing that, and they pushed the tempo and caught us shorthanded a couple times.”
Despite the loss, Sharp couldn’t have been prouder with the effort.
“We were down five, we tie it, then we fall short at the end,” Sharp said. “Still a heck of an effort. It would have been easy to fold up shop and go home, but we kept the shop open until the end of the game. I’m going to take that, not as a moral victory, but as a positive light on the night.”