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Mixed result

Duncan MacLean • Apr 11, 2019 at 12:22 AM

A snowy, rainy blend made for a slick field at Spring Lake High School Tuesday, as both the April weather and Laker soccer team struggled to make a decision.

Spring Lake played to their second tie of the season, this time against Mona Shores by a score of 1-1, moving their record to two ties, one loss and zero wins.

“We are just trying to find our rhythm right now,” said Spring Lake head coach Becky May. “I think we played really well today. We won that game in every category, we just couldn’t get the goals. We’re taking steps forward — small steps, but steps forward nonetheless.”

An early goal by Mona Shores forced Spring Lake to play from behind as conditions worsened over the course of the evening. The Sailors’ 1-0 lead would hold to halftime. It took another 30 minutes of play for the Lakers to break through, as Phoebe Saunders converted the equalizer with 10 minutes left to play, bringing the game to its final tally.

The game began under the guise of dry conditions and a dominating Spring Lake win, as the Lakers controlled virtually every second of possession through the first 10 minutes of play.

Despite its meticulous possession game firing on all cylinders, Spring Lake couldn’t muster a true chance at the goal as run after run was dismissed by the last line of the Mona Shores defense.

At the 30-minute mark, Sara Gray decided to skip that last line, putting the Sailor keeper on notice with a blistering shot to the post from well outside the box. The save by the bar proved pivotal, as Mona Shores took the ensuing possession the length of the field for a goal in transition with 28:40 left in the first half.

“It was just a mistake,” May said of the goal. “Their player got loose and all three of our girls stepped to cover, no one stepped to pressure. They realized what happened, but by then it was too late. She was at the box and just dumped it into the corner.

“That just comes with communication. It was a mistake we made. We fixed the mistake and no more goals.”

Despite the deficit, and the now falling rain, Spring Lake refused to speed up its game.

“No impact at all,” May said of the early goal on their game plan. “It was good because in the second half our defenders were stepping quicker.

“We will play the possession game all the time. We focus on possession and finesse, regardless of what the other team is playing. We will never transition from that. It is far too pretty of a game to ruin it by turning it into a boxing match.”

As the first half wore on, the Lakers got closer and closer to the tying goal. A run by Laney Peasley was saved at the 27-minute mark. Minutes later, Keara Fritsche made hard contact with a sliding Sailor keeper. Even a pair of good corner-kick chances was turned away.

“It is early in the season,” May said of the scoring struggles. “We had to move people around this season and I think the adjustment to new positions has taken a bit longer than they would have hoped. Just replacing two players on offense, it takes time to get used to that. I’m patient. Not upset by it at all.”

The second half brought more fight from Mona Shores, and heftier precipitation from the clouds. As snow began to fall, the game’s physicality increased.

The Sailors managed to wrestle away a few more midfield balls, but all but ceased pressure on the Spring Lake goal as the Laker backline took their halftime adjustments to heart.

Two nice saves by Kamryn Lewkowski in goal preserved the deficit through the first 30 minutes of play.

At the 10-minute mark, the Lakers drew a free kick. Peasley did the honors, banking a perfect ball off the crossbar to the charging feet of Saunders, who one-timed the rebound home to bring the game to its final score.

The draw brings the Lakers’ record to 0-1-2 on the season, but summit-level competition in unseasonable weather makes for tough sledding.

“Everyone wants to see wins right away, but not a lot of teams take on Grand Haven, Unity Christian and Mona Shores to start their season,” May said. “Anyone who watched that game today would say we won, but we didn’t. We tied it. But, it’s all good. We learned what we needed to. We took another step forward to get ready for the conference season.”

Spring Lake returns to action looking for their first win today as they open their conference season at Sparta at 6:45 p.m.

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