Lakers gear up for regional final three-match

Duncan MacLean • Jun 7, 2019 at 12:15 AM

Three years of hard work and heartbreak are set to culminate at Holland High School at 6 p.m. tonight, as the Spring Lake girls soccer team takes on Forest Hills Northern in the regional finals for the third year in a row.

The lauded Huskies have owned the series, but only just, winning the 2017 matchup on a last-minute goal and the 2018 title in a penalty-kick shootout.

This year, the Lakers are back and better than ever with a newly minted all-time leading scorer, a freshman scoring sensation and their same tenacious, take-no-prisoners defense.

After cruising through the O-K Blue Conference schedule, Spring Lake’s only challenge in the district tournament came in a 4-0 victory over Reeths-Puffer in the championship game. The Rockets employed a tricky defensive scheme to gum up the Lakers’ potent offense, holding them to a 0-0 halftime tie before Madeline Zenas busted the game open with a pair of goals.

The win, and subsequent shutout of Zeeland East in the regional semifinals maintained a clean sheet for the Lakers through the playoffs so far, as they have outscored their opponents 23-0 through the tournament. Wins came over Fremont, Sparta, Reeths-Puffer and Zeeland East.

Forest Hills Northern has been up to its usual antics, cruising to a 16-2-1 overall record and finishing the year as the No. 6 team in Division 2.

The Huskies last loss came on May 3, as they have ripped off eight straight wins after dropping to rival Forest Hills Central, who just took down Grand Haven in the Division 1 regional tournament.

They have played well against the division’s top contenders this season, defeating No. 4 Richland Gull Lake 1-0 and dropping a close one to No. 1 DeWitt in a 1-0 loss.

Despite their success, Forest Hills will be motivated, as it has finished as the state runner-up in each of the last two seasons. Spring Lake has posed a challenge, but the Huskies’ score to settle comes in the title game.

This postseason, Forest Hills’ playoff path has come with wins over Cedar Springs (5-1) and Lowell (9-1) in the district tournament, along with an 8-0 mercy victory over Wayland Union in the regional semifinals.

Diving into the Huskies’ scoring habits, Forest Hills Northern has scored 87 total goals over its 19 games for an average of 4.58 goals per game, while giving up just 11 goals with 10 shutouts to date.

The Lakers, at 18-1-2 overall thus far, have scored 93 goals for a per-game average of 4.42. They’ve given up just seven goals and recorded 13 shutouts behind keeper Kamryn Lewkowski.

Their loss and ties came early in the season, as they tied the Bucs to kick off the year, lost to Unity Christian in Game 2 and tied Mona Shores in Game 3.

Since, the Lakers have ripped off a winning streak spanning from April 11 to now.

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