SPRING LAKE – The Spring Lake and Fruitport rivalry continued this weekend, when the Trojans traveled to Spring Lake to take on the Lakers in soccer. Offense was at a premium in this match, both teams only managed one goal apiece as the match ended in a draw.
Fruitport’s head coach Dan Hazekamp was pleased with his team’s performance coming off of a tough stretch in their schedule.
“Coming off of the last five games we've played now, where we’ve played Western Michigan Christian, Mona Shores, Reeths-Puffer, Union and now Spring Lake. It’s just been a gauntlet to run through. I’ve got guys that are dinged up and tired that came and played on a surface we haven’t played on [turf] all year. I’m extremely proud that they hung in there and fought.” Hazekamp said.
Spring Lake’s Jeremy Thelen was in a similar mood about his team’s performance after the Lakers also went through a tough slate of games themselves.
“This is one of those games, it’s a rivalry game on a Saturday. We’ve played a ton of games over the past couple days. We’re going to end up playing six games in 12 days. We have to have a physical recovery, we had a lot of possessions and a lot of chances, we just didn’t finish it today.” Thelen said.
The first half was largely uneventful for the offenses, as it ended in a scoreless tie with neither team being able to create many meaningful opportunities. Spring Lake’s defense and ball control allowed them to possess the ball for most of the half and led in shots 6-0. Although Spring Lake had the shot advantage, only two attacks had any potential to put pressure on the goalkeeper. Four shots were taken from outside of the box.
The best shot the Lakers had at finding the back of the net came with five minutes remaining in the half and senior Malachi Mulder going in on goal after receiving a perfect through ball. Mulder had a step on his defender, but the defender made up ground and forced Mulder into a tough sliding shot that sailed high over the net.
The Trojans had one real scoring chances in the first half after a header at midfield bounced perfectly down their side of the field and midfielder Ryan Laus got the ball with nothing but turf between him and the goalie. Laus dribbled himself too far into the box and was never able to get a shot off with Spring Lake goalkeeper Aidan Parker sliding out to make the stop.
The scoring opened up nine minutes into the second half, with Fruitport forward Logan Manciu got into the box on a perfect pass and found the back of the net to give his team the one-goal advantage. Spring Lake looked to have tied it up with a free kick by Mulder midway through the second half but the goal was waved off after the referees ruled the kick illegal.
Spring Lake evened the score no more than four minutes later after Trojan goalie Justin Laus failed to make a save and allowed the Lakers to cross the ball into the box to Mulder who headed it in with a little help from a Trojan defender.
Hazekamp talked about what can be taken away from their recent schedule.
“Adversity is such an important thing for these kids to go through. It really tests you and forces you to find out what you’re made of mentally. We’re going to take some bumps with this conference we play in and in our non-conference that we play, we are going to get beat up once in a while,” Hazekamp said.
“Having these guys respond and work through it will only benefit us when we start to transition to the end of the year when things get really important.”
The rivalry games aren’t over for Spring Lake quite yet. On Tuesday, the Lakers will travel to Grand Haven to take on the Buccaneers. Thelen talked about how his team can use this performance later in the season.
“We didn’t lose the game, it’s a learning experience. We can say ‘Hey, remember when we didn’t work as hard at the Fruitport game,'” Thelen said. “We didn’t work as hard at the end there. They played a lot of players deep on us and we just kept shooting and shooting. I always talk about we don’t get 3-pointers in soccer. We’ve got to get closer in.”
While the Lakers are in Grand Haven, the Trojans will be traveling to Muskegon H.S. to take on the Big Reds on Tuesday.