Improving to 12-1 on the season, Spring Lake dominated possession early and often against Southside. The Lakers claimed a 10-0 halftime lead with starting attackman Danton Molotky, the only freshman on the varsity roster, spearheading their hot start with a number of good runs into the box and good finishes in front of goal. Molotky finished the game with a team-high three goals.
Spring Lake showed off its depth Saturday, as 13 different players scored goals, including first-half keeper Gavin Cunningham.
“The last goal of the day was from my first-half goalie,” said Spring Lake head coach Doug Sharp. “(People might have wondered why we were celebrating the goal), but we had a goalie come out in the field and he got one, so it’s a fun thing.
“(Today’s game provided) a neat opportunity to go out and enjoy a different aspect of the game.”
Lax by the Lake, similar to Lax Fest, which is between Spring Lake and Grand Haven, featured four games. Thanks to Spring Lake prom, the day started with each side’s varsity teams taking the field. The next three games featured kids ranging from third to eighth grade.
“It’s a fun day win, lose or draw,” Sharp said. “It’s nice being able to connect the youth with the old kids, it makes you feel the sense of something bigger being able to connect with so many athletes. It was weird with prom, but it was nice starting the day with some doughnuts and lacrosse.”
The Lakers suffered no emotional hangover Saturday despite recently claiming their crown as conference champions. The Lakers looked poised and hungry from the first whistle, sticking to what had helped them dominate the season up to that point. Though Southside, a program in only its second season of existence, didn’t pose much of a threat, Spring Lake remained locked in to the season’s bigger picture.
“A year ago we sat down and talked about what this year was going to look like and what we were aiming for, and it was to get to the point we’re at now,” Sharp said. “It’s been a focused effort for the last four years to reach the heights we’ve reached this season, and we talked a lot about culture and changing the culture.
“Lacrosse season is just getting started Memorial Day weekend. That can be hard to get kids to buy into sometimes, but this group bought into it from Day 1.”
Wednesday night, Spring Lake lacrosse will honor a special group of 15 players for senior night. The Lakers’ large and successful group of seniors is hoping to lead the Lakers on a long postseason run, but they have already left a mark on the program by grooming the players ready to follow in their footsteps.
“The ratios ebb and flow, and we have a big senior class,” Sharp said. “They’ve raised the younger kids well with a winning expectation. The younger kids on varsity and the JV all spend a lot of time playing and practicing with the seniors, so everyone is being groomed for their turn (in the spotlight).”
Southside, a new lacrosse program that takes student-athletes from Mona Shores, Western Michigan Christian, Fruitport and Muskegon Catholic Central high school, struggled to compete at the varsity level, but showcased some talent waiting in the wings throughout the younger age groups.
“Spring Lake varsity is extremely talented,” said Southside head coach Murle Greer. “They have a heavy senior class, and this is one of the best lacrosse teams in Spring Lake history. We knew what we were getting into.
“We are a second-year program and I have young and inexperienced players out there trying to ball with some of the best players in the state. We knew it would be a little unbalanced, but we also know that gap is going to close in the coming years, and we will be a little more competitive. We wanted to start a friendly competition to help promote the teams and the sport itself.”
Greer, formerly the head lacrosse coach at Grand Haven, helped set up Lax Fest while with the Bucs, and now he has continued to expand the sport across West Michigan.
“It’s great to see the amount of kids playing, programs starting up in the state,” Greer said. “It’s incredible to see how many student-athletes go on to play college ball. It’s been a real joy and a pleasure to be a part of (the growth of lacrosse).”
Spring Lake’s postseason begins Monday, May 20th with a matchup against Petoskey. But its main foe will be a potential rematch against favored East Grand Rapids in the regional final.