GH GIRLS LAX BURIES ZEELAND
The Grand Haven girls lacrosse team began their playoff journey in the regional first round Wednesday night in style, surging in the second half for a 14-8 victory over Zeeland East at Rockford.
It was a slow start for the Bucs, who struggled to find their rhythm on offense, seeing frequently dropped passes and wasted possessions. At halftime, they led by just one goal, 6-5.
“We had some rust to kick off, apparently,” said Grand Haven head coach Mark Roberson. “Things were not clicking early. We were in our own heads a little bit, I think, and had a hard time catching the ball for a while.
“We were finding open lanes and just dropping the ball on the way in.”
The intermission respite was enough to refocus Grand Haven, who exploded for a scoring spree to kick off the second half and put the game away.
“We hit the second half and there was an element of sudden clarity,” Robertson said. “We started catching the ball and scored six or seven goals in a row and cruised through the second half. We just had to settle down and throw and catch the ball.”
Jerica Tallman led the offense with six goals, just ahead of Amaya Dewald with four. Paige Kramer, Emilee Schaub and Grace Veldhulgen each scored one goal.
Dewald tallied two assists to lead the way, while Ally Kingma dished out one.
Grand Haven will return to action against Portage Northern in the regional semifinals after their 18-11 defeat of Grandville. The game will be played at Rockford next Wednesday, starting at 5:30 p.m.
SL BOYS LAX EDGES HOLLAND CHRISTIAN
The Spring Lake boys lacrosse team made program history Wednesday, as the Lakers scored two late goals in the fourth quarter to hold off Holland Christian 10-8 in the Division 2 regional semifinals and advance to their first regional championship game in school history.
The Lakers led 2-0 after the first quarter, but were tied 4-4 at the half. A third-quarter surge helped Spring Lake to an 8-6 advantage heading into the fourth quarter, but back-to-back goals by the Maroons in the fourth knotted the game at 8-8 with four minutes to play.
Then, the Lakers netted back-to-back goals of their own and used their smothering defensive style to hold on for the win.
Colby Brown led the Lakers (9-8) with three goals and one assist, while Max White added two goals and one assist.
Also adding key contributions for the Lakers were: Dom Molotky with two goals, Sean Carrns with one goal and Caleb Montgomery, Gavin Alban and Keegan O’Donnell each had one assist.
“We played well. We controlled the pace of play and did a great job of controlling pace and attacking early on,” said Spring Lake head coach Doug Sharp after the game. “We outshot them 12-2 after the first quarter, but we let a few bad midfield possessions turn into easy points for them. It was tied at halftime, but we felt like we were in control, and we played the second half with that confidence.
“Our defense was strong the whole game, and our possession was excellent. Guys like Alex Engelsman, Mitchell Payne and Joe Chittenden were winning a lot of their faceoffs and that really helped us keep the momentum going after they scored a few goals.”
Sharp was proud of his team for not letting a pressure situation get to their heads in a win-or-go-home scenario.
“We showed a lot of heart out there, and these guys always do,” he added. “We’ve played four or five overtime games this season, and they’ve never once shrunk under pressure. It’s a lot of stress when we play so many tight games, but it’s a lot of fun and I know they can handle it.
“We knew this group had a chance to the first team to make it through to the regional finals. We wanted to push ourselves with a tough schedule and I think that has served us well. We might not be scaring anybody with our 9-8 record, but we aren’t scared to play anyone, either. This was a huge step for our program, and I couldn’t be prouder of this group for getting it done.”
Spring Lake advances to the Division 2 regional finals next Wednesday at 7 p.m. at East Grand Rapids. The Lakers will face the host Pioneers, who defeated Byron Center 23-4 in the other semifinal matchup.