Spring Lake girls and boys lacrosse teams win playoff openers

Duncan MacLean • May 19, 2018 at 12:37 AM

The Spring Lake boys and girls lacrosse programs kicked off their playoff journeys in tandem Friday night as the girls hosted Northview for their pre-regional matchup, followed by the boys taking on Petoskey in the regional opening round.

Both teams came away with victories, earning tougher opponents in the next round. The girls took a dominating 21-5 win over the Wildcats and will advance to play East Grand Rapids, while the boys took an 8-2 victory over the Northmen and will play the winner of Traverse City St. Francis and Holland Christian.


Game 1 of the playoff-packed evening put the Lady Lakers' scoring prowess on display as nine different players found the net.

McKenzie Ely led the way for Spring Lake with five goals, followed by Macey Carey with four, Kate Vinkemulder and Josie Brown each with three, Madison Kaurich with two and Elena Antekeier, Paige Sharp and May Fuller all with one.

"We had a good day," said Spring Lake girls head coach Jason Vinkemulder. "We don't take any game for granted. We knew they wouldn't be as tough as some teams, but we had a job to do. In this type of game, you need to get a bit of a buffer. I told the girls once we got a 10-point lead we could try some different things. The seasoned vets got us there and then the bench players and JV pull-ups kept the momentum going and built the lead. That is really nice for a coach to see."

The Lakers earned that buffer early, as they jumped to a 6-0 lead before Northview found the net. With 9:13 left in the first half, the Wildcats converted a transition fast break. That theme would continue through the first half with Spring Lake scoring goals in bunches and Northview converting the occasional transition goal.

"That was one of the areas we did not do well," Vinkemulder said of their transition defense. "Our middies weren't dropping fast enough. We had a physical game against Grand Haven on Tuesday and another physical game that went right down the wire Thursday night, so I think it was just some fatigue. We just didn't execute those very well. We were able to fix it in the second half, though."

Despite the apparent fatigue, the Lakers led 13-5 at halftime. Two quick goals to start the second half brought on a running clock with Spring Lake up, 15-5. Through the second half, the Lakers allowed zero goals and netted eight more, including contributions from the playoff promoted junior varsity players.

The win advances the Lakers into the first round of the regional tournament, where they will meet East Grand Rapids, winners of five of the last six Division 2 state titles.

"I'm telling my players there is no pressure," Vinkemulder said. "The one benefit you have is a massive underdog is there is no expectation of victory, there is no pressure.

"We are just going to focus on executing the details of our jobs. If we do that, we can give them a run for their money. This team is deep in talent and if we come in and execute like I know we can, it will be an interesting game."

Spring Lake will travel to tournament host East Grand Rapids to take on the Pioneers on Monday at 5:30 p.m.


The Spring Lake boys' lacrosse team hoped to make similar short work of Petoskey, but the Northmen were not ready to see their season end.

A dominant defensive performance by the Lakers held a persistent Petoskey attack at bay while the Spring Lake offense struggled to work through the Northmen's' zone defense.

"Our defense played unbelievably from start to finish," said Spring Lake boys coach Doug Sharp. "Petoskey was playing an aggressive zone defense. We haven't seen many zone defenses, let alone that aggressive of one. So, it took us a little bit to figure out.

"That has been a problem for us all season is starting slow. It is one of those unsolved mysteries. Typically, it gives us a hole to dig out of, but our defense didn't let us down today. It was scoreless until we got the offense going and it was just fine from there."

Neither team found the net through the opening quarter. The Lakers found their offensive groove to kick off the second period, first netting a transition look kicked off by a forced turnover on the defensive end, then a man-up opportunity featuring a fortunate tip-in and finally a goal off a full offensive set with 5:25 left in the first half.

Petoskey lit their half of the scoreboard with 3:21 left, bringing a 3-1 Laker lead into halftime.

Spring Lake struck first in the second half on a goal by Keaton Kval with 5:30 left in the quarter. On the Lakers' next man-up opportunity, the Northmen managed a steal and took the ball into their offensive end, bypassing a double team for a goal to stay relevant.

With 2:38 left in the third, Caleb Montgomery netted a long-range goal to push the Laker lead back to three, 5-2.

Just before the buzzer sounded, two Lakers were sent to the penalty box, forcing the defense to start the final frame down two players. In the break, Spring Lake was charged with a stick violation, sending a third player to the penalty box.

The fourth quarter began with Petoskey in possession and the Laker defense playing 3-on-6.

The trio of long sticks locked in and killed the penalties, holding Petoskey to no goals with half as many players.

"Talking," Sharp said of the stand. "The core of that defense has been playing together since the fifth grade, and they talk. That's what you got to do when you have to cover six guys with three."

The impossible defensive stand lit a fire for the Lakers, who netted three goals down the stretch to secure their victory, via Jake Vinkemulder, Mitchell Payne and Sean Carrns.

"This was a good team win," Sharp said. "Good effort. I'm proud of my defense and my goalies, they all played great and the offense figured out their issues and did what they had to."

The victory earns the Lakers a bid to the regional semifinals, where they will take on the winner of Holland Christian and Traverse City St. Francis at East Grand Rapids on May 23 at 5:30 p.m.

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