Peasley shatters all-time scoring record in Lakers’ win over Fremont

Duncan MacLean • May 24, 2019 at 12:15 AM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — Heading into Thursday’s district semifinal match at Spring Lake High School, senior striker Laney Peasley was tipped off that two goals would tie her for No. 1 on the Lakers’ career scoring list.

The game ended at halftime in an 8-0 Spring Lake mercy. Peasley netted five to end the game with 99 goals and counting.

“It feels so good,” she said after the match. “I worked so hard for all of this and these other girls worked so hard to help me earn it. I’m very thankful for all of my teammates and their support.”

“I knew she would get there this year,” said Spring Lake head coach Becky May. “It was just a matter of when. She is irreplaceable.”

The record was nearing a decade on the books, previously held by 2010 graduate Annie Steinlage, who finished her Laker career with 96 total goals. After leading the Lakers to an undefeated regular season in her senior year, Steinlage joined the ranks of Michigan State University, earning three All-Big Ten honors before transferring to Virginia and leading the Cavaliers to a Final Four appearance and playing professionally.

Peasley’s career is far from over with the postseason just beginning and a career at Grand Valley waiting, but she took some time to reflect on her four years as a varsity striker. It wasn’t always easy for the prolific goal scorer.

“I was terrified coming onto varsity as a freshman,” she said. “The seniors that year were very, very good. But, they ended up helping me a lot and were really welcoming. Since then, I’ve tried to mimic what they did for me.”

As for her final mark in the record book, the senior was modest about her eventual total.

“At least 100,” she said with a smile. “Let’s go with that.”

While coach May missed Peasley’s freshman year, when she came onboard in 2017 it was obvious she inherited an all-time athlete.

“In soccer, there are two things you have to well to succeed: change of direction and change of speed,” she said. “She is just the best at that. From a dead stop to a full sprint and back to a stop. She doesn’t even have that many moves, because she doesn’t have to. She is just so fast and sees the field so well and hits it so hard.

“She rarely misses, but when she does she is always there for the putback. You can’t teach that speed and instinct. Then, she added all the quick stops and turns. She is just so fun to watch and coach. She is amazing, I just love it.”

As for the rest of the game Thursday, it was a beautiful evening for playoff soccer, but there was never a doubt which team would advance to face Sparta in Tuesday’s district semifinals.

The Laker offense got to work right away, sending a volley of shot attempts at the Fremont keeper in the first few minutes of play. After a few stellar saves and mistimes by the Lakers, Sara Gray struck first five minutes into the match to get the ball rolling.

Freshman Meah Bajt came next, executing a nifty deke in the box before striking home the second goal with 31 minutes left in the half.

Peasley got started on a penalty kick, drawing a push from behind in the box and converting the free shot, sending whispers of records through the Spring Lake crowd.

She would take the record in dominant fashion, netting the next four goals between the 27- and 7-minute marks. Her second came in breakaway fashion, after Fremont nearly broke into their attacking half for the first time all game. The third, record-breaking goal came with a challenge from the goalie, as she shot past a sliding keeper to a roar from her teammates and fans.

Peasley’s fourth goal found the net with 24 minutes left in the half, bringing the frantic scoring pace to a halt. It took 17 minutes for Spring Lake to find the net again, with Peasley finishing her fifth goal with 7:41 left.

Gray then finished what she started, netting the eighth and final goal of the game on a hard strike from the top of the box with two minutes left in the half. When the buzzer sounded, the Lakers had a relaxed celebration, fitting for the summer vibes of the 70-degree, full-sun match.

Now, a matchup with O-K Blue Conference foe Sparta waits in the district semifinals at Reeths-Puffer. The Lakers dominated league play this year, taking the conference crown with an undefeated, mostly unchallenged, run through the Blue.

Thursday’s quick game was productive two-fold for the Lakers as it produced a shot at the next round with minimal damage to an already hampered roster.

“(Thursday) was good for us,” May said. “We had some injuries that were trying to play through it, and I just made them sit and rest. We’ve got bruised ribs, bad ankles and feet. Hopefully, this long weekend will be good for us and we can get back to work healthy on Monday.

“We weren’t super challenged through conference, so we will go in with a little confidence and hopefully be ready.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Reeths-Puffer High School on Tuesday.

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