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5 Things to Watch this Week

Tribune Staff • Sep 11, 2018 at 12:32 AM

The fall sports season is hitting a critical juncture in the schedule, as non-conference clashes have given way to ultra-important league showdowns across the Lakeshore.

With the postseason just a calendar page turn away, every event moving forward gains added magnitude in conference championship races, postseason qualifying and rivalry bragging rights. There are also annual traditions being celebrated this week that have a lot more significance than the final score, as one Grand Haven program puts on its Buc Pride Night event.

Here are a few events on the prep calendar that you won't want to miss this week.

Spring Lake girls golf jamboree

When: Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.

Where: Spring Lake Country Club

The Spring Lake girls golf team has won 16 straight league championships, dating back to their time in the Lakes Eight and Seaway Conferences. After a third-place finish at the state meet last fall, the Lakers appear poised to make another run. Senior Hannah Klein and junior Phoebe Saunders have led the way for the Lakers so far, while the improving play of senior Alana Sprague, sophomore Kate Galloway and junior Maggie Mahoney make the team an early favorite to repeat as league champions.

In their last conference jamboree, the Lakers compiled an impressive 175 team score at Moss Ridge Golf Club in Sparta. Saunders and Klein both carded season-low scores of 1-over par rounds of 37 to lead Spring Lake. Sprague and Galloway added scores of 50 and 51, respectively. Mahoney would add a 58 and sophomore Zoe Ruffing carded a 61 in her first conference match.

The Lakers hope the friendly confines of the Spring Lake Country Club will serve them well, as they tee off Wednesday afternoon in another league jamboree. If the team can use their home course advantage to their favor, they could jump out to an insurmountable lead early on in the season and have the rest of the field chasing them through October.

Grand Haven volleyball hosts Bucs Pride Night

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven High School

The Grand Haven volleyball program will host its Bucs Pride Night on Thursday, as they take on O-K Red Conference rival West Ottawa.

The Buccaneers are hoping to bounce back from a tough outing at the Novi Invitational last weekend, after going 1-2-1 at the event. The team defeated Ann Arbor Huron, split with Utica Eisenhower and dropped matches to No.15-ranked Brighton and Stevenson Lakeshore.

After a whirlwind of a non-conference schedule, Grand Haven enters O-K Red Conference play with a 20-7-1 overall record and plenty of potential for growth. If the front-line trio of Ashley Slater, Avolyn Lepo and Sarah Knoll can continue to dominate play and the depth of playmakers behind them can continue to improve, the Buccaneers should be frontrunners in the league.

The Panthers enter Thursday's showdown with plenty of confidence of their own, after finishing runner-up at the Fruitport Invitational last weekend. West Ottawa is currently 16-8-1 overall and is led by their senior outside hitter Natalie Dunn, who had 42 kills, 29 digs and eight aces last weekend. Macy Kuyers chipped in 39 kills and 15 blocks, while Abby Sprick contributed 67 assists and 18 digs.

With an emotional atmosphere to kick off conference play, look for the Buccaneers to be motivated to make a statement at home in this rivalry match.

Spring Lake football hosts Coopersville

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Grabinski Field

After only winning two games the last two seasons, the Lakers are off to a red-hot start to the 2018 season. After knocking off Orchard View (42-19) and Fruitport (49-20), Spring Lake opened its O-K Blue Conference schedule with a 16-0 shutout win over Sparta last week.

With a defense that has been smothering its opponents so far this season and an offense that has been spearheaded by senior quarterback Caleb Montgomery, the Lakers appear to be a playoff contender. The road to a six-win season hits a critical stretch in the coming weeks, as they play Coopersville and Comstock Park, before taking on defending state champions Grand Rapids West Catholic and Grand Rapids Catholic Central in Week 7 and 8, respectively.

Spring Lake will celebrate Homecoming this Friday, as they host the Broncos of Coopersville. The Broncos are coming off a 41-24 loss to Allendale last week and are 1-2 overall on the season. The Lakers are riding a wave of momentum into this matchup, and with an added emotional boost from Homecoming festivities, the team hopes to wash out the Broncos and move one step closer to postseason play.

Spring Lake Swimming Invitational

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: Spring Lake Aquatic Center

The Spring Lake swim team will host its annual invitational tournament this weekend at the Spring Lake Aquatic Center. The Lakers will host Caledonia, Fremont, Ludington, Manistee and the co-op team from Reeths-Puffer and Mona Shores.

The Lakers dropped their first two meets of the season to Grandville (109-77) and Holland Christian (119-66), but have had some impressive performances throughout their lineup.

Against Holland Christian, Leila Kahler recorded a state-qualifying time in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of five minutes, 35.66 seconds. Both the 200 and 400 relay teams of Eliza Hulverson, Sara Strauss, Kahler and Sara Mumby made state cuts as well with times of 1:45.40 and 3:52.99, respectively. Mumby also added a state-cut time in the 100 freestyle (56.03) against Grandville.

With a competitive field in the lanes of their home pool, look for the Lakers to continue to lock up state-qualifying times early on in the season and push for improvement across the lineup, as they prepare to head into league meet season.

Spring Lake soccer at Reeths-Puffer

When: Saturday, 1:45 p.m.

Where: Reeths-Puffer High School

Few teams have been a bigger thorn in the side of the Spring Lake boys soccer program than Reeths-Puffer in recent years. The past two Laker seasons have ended at the hands of the Rockets, via penalty-kick shootouts in the district round of the postseason.

While no regular season win will alleviate the pain of those past defeats, a non-conference road win after a recent streak of no-decision contests would be a welcomed result for the Lakers.

Spring Lake is currently 1-1-4 on the year, with a win over Sparta (3-1) on Aug. 30, after three consecutive draws with Fruitport, Grand Haven and Mona Shores. Following the O-K Blue Conference win over the Spartans, the Lakers played to a scoreless tie with Grand Rapids West Catholic last Thursday.

Spring Lake's team defense has been stifling the attack of the opposition so far this season, but the forwards and midfielders will need to generate more scoring chances if the club is going to reach its true potential in 2018. Grand Haven put up eight goals on the Rockets in an Aug. 23 match, so the Lakers might be ready for an offensive breakout in this matchup.

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