Boys rule, cancer drools

Duncan MacLean • May 17, 2018 at 12:08 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — Cancer plays by its own rules and doesn’t discriminate when selecting victims. Grand Haven lacrosse honored those afflicted with an all-inclusive game Wednesday, sending cancer packing with some made-up rules of their own.

The game was the lacrosse program’s special spin on Bucs Pride Night, as the boys and girls teams traded sticks and rulebooks for a fun exhibition before they take on the looming postseason.

For the second time, the boys came away with a narrow victory, winning 5-4 in sudden-victory overtime. The girls finished regulation on a roll, netting two goals in the final three minutes to tie the game, but didn’t get a possession in overtime as the boys converted on their first trip.

“It was so much fun last year, we couldn't not do it again this year,” said boys head coach Lee Ingalls. “It was the talk of the school for the whole week and it created so much goodwill for both teams. How could you not like it?"

"The sad part is that you are not going to find anybody that is not affected by cancer,” said girls head coach Mark Roberson. “Everybody knows somebody, and that's the sad part."

"I’ve got a cousin who's at the clinic right now battling stage 4 cancer. He's getting his last treatment and getting ready to come home,” Ingalls added. “I found out two days ago that a kid that is in my tech group, a 22-year-old, has got pancreatic cancer and only has a month to live. I put his name on the back of my shirt, as well as my cousin. Stuff comes out of left field and punches you in the gut. It's shocking.

“This event is able to bring the school closer together and help that reality, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”


The Lady Bucs lit the scoreboard first, much to the chagrin of the boys' team, who evened the score one minute later.

Enjoying the ease of possession found with the boys' sticks, the girls set about dicing up the defense, eventually wrestling back the lead to head into halftime up 2-1.

“I think the girls had some of their best transitions on that field today because they had the challenge of the boys,” Roberson said.

As hidden ball tricks were foiled by observant eyes, and outside shots blocked by strong goaltending, the boys dipped into their playbook and got creative to even the score.

They evened the score with 16 minutes left to play on a sky pass from behind the net to an airborne player on the crease, who executed the one-timer to tie the game, 2-2.

Just one minute later, a turnover at midfield kicked off a boys transition. A dangerously smooth swim move preceded the go-ahead dunk for the boys, forcing a girls timeout.

The boys would push their lead to 4-2 with a coast-to-coast transition goal after the timeout before the girls took over down the stretch.

“I was worried at that point,” Ingalls said. “We have had a couple games where we have let leads slip away late and lose close ones. I knew the girls would finish strong.”

With just over three minutes to play, Ingalls’ fears were realized. The girls netted a textbook inbounds play with a crisp pass from behind the cage and a quick cut to the cage. Thirty seconds later, they struck again, tying the game with 2:43 left to play.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to get fired,’” Ingalls joked.

With regulation ending in a tie, both coaches felt it a fitting end to a friendly day of community-driven competition. The players disagreed, joining forces at midfield to protest the draw. They got their wish in a four-minute sudden-victory overtime period.

The boys took the opening faceoff and set to work, moving the ball all the way around the cage before driving from the top of the box and ripping the game-winning goal.

“It was so much fun,” Ingalls said. “I just wanted to get everyone in the game. They were having so much fun that we had kids sneaking out onto the field. They just couldn’t get enough of it.


As for the friendly competition, it is all fun and games until crunch time, where the cause and casual play go out the window in pursuit of a victory. Even siblings were feeling the heat as the game wound down.

“It felt really good to tie it up, but stunk when they got that last goal,” Chelsea Sportell said. “It is really worth something for the seniors. It’s a really important game for everyone just for the fun of it. It gets pretty competitive, but is fun to play.”

“It was one of our more exciting wins,” Caydon Sportell said. “It is uplifting to be a part of. Playing for a good reason and being able to have fun with it is awesome.

“She (Chelsea) got to beat up on me, which is the opposite of normal.”

“It was funny,” Chelsea added. “He couldn’t hit me, but I went after him pretty hard.”

Now, with no catastrophic injuries to be reported, both teams transition into the postseason. The boys begin their journey against Grandville, at Grandville on Friday at 6 p.m., while the girls take on Zeeland East at Rockford on May 23 at 5 p.m.

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