SPRING LAKE – Spring Lake responded strongly to a surprising early deficit on Tuesday night, making the most of their second-half chances to win 7-1 against Coopersville.
Sheldon Bunnell and Porter Saunders had a pair of goals apiece for Spring Lake, while Ben Bush picked up a goal and two assists to lead the stat-sheet. Despite losing their shutout early on, it was one of Spring Lake’s most solid performances this season on both ends.
“It’s one of those things where we had to wake up,” Spring Lake head coach Jeremy Thelen said. “When we got in on goal and passed quickly, that’s when things happened for us.”
The first half took a while to get into gear. The opening minutes were dominated by long-range shots by Spring Lake as both Bush and Sam Ogden went close on the attacking end.
There weren’t many clear-cut chances for either team until 20 minutes in. Spring Lake’s 12 was alert to close in on Isaiah Currie after a looped pass had the sophomore in a one-on-one situation. The Lakers were more likely to frustrate themselves than the Broncos, taking a handful of shots from outside the area instead of searching for shots in prime locations.
Coopersville resorted to counter-attacking via the long ball thanks to the Lakers’ pressure and the Broncos’ inability to retain the ball. It was through a long pass that Coopersville took a surprise lead.
Blake Stewart and Currie were the two of the Broncos’ best performers on the evening, and they combined for the only goal of Coopersville’s game.
Collecting in midfield, Stewart’s long pass over top of the Laker defense was collected by Currie, who outran his defender before squeezing a shot past Laker goalkeeper Aidan Parker. It was Coopersville’s first shot on goal.
It took five minutes for the Lakers to tie the game, senior Caden Ruter picking up a goal after playing a pass with 8. The ball bounced off a Bronco defender and straight into the path of Ruter, who squeezed a shot in at the near post.
The Lakers set towards taking a lead into halftime, but couldn’t quite find the right shot. Bunnell came closest, firing a shot wide of the far post after a nice move to make space. Their momentum from the final 10 minutes carried over into the second half, which led to a straightforward second half.
Ogden was the beneficiary of an excellent solo play from Bush to break the tie five minutes after the restart. Collecting in space just outside the penalty box, his backheel was placed right into Ogden’s path, and his shot left the goalie motionless for 2-1.
Saunders got his first goal 10 minutes later, tracking down a long pass and stepping inside to place a left-footed shot into the near corner. With the two-goal lead, Spring Lake continued to stamp their authority on the attacking end.
For most of the second half, Spring Lake had the Broncos on their heels with smart attacking movement and quick passing. The Lakers’ second-half performance could’ve ended with a goal tally in the double-digits if applied over a full game.
Three minutes later, Bush combined with Jack Mulder for the fourth goal. Both players utilized the space given to them for a textbook run and finish from the senior forward. The angled pass from Mulder was just as good as the finish.
Sheldon Bunnell was dangerous throughout both halves. His goal with 19 minutes left could have made a case for best of the night, right up there with Bush’s backheeled pass. After receiving a pass near midfield, he had space to run into. With Keegan Fritsche placed centrally, the senior’s long-range shot ended up in the bottom corner for 5-1.
“We struggled sometimes,” Bunnell said. “In the beginning, we wanted to be selfish and be a hero. After halftime, it was time for us to play.”
Strong teamwork from Bush and 19 led to another Saunders goal for No. 6, playing a quick succession of passes for Saunders to place a shot into the far corner.
Link Dephouse’s long-range shot was well-saved late on, and Fritsche flashed a shot over the crossbar from long range following a corner.
Bunnell rounded off the scoring with 40 seconds left, collecting a misplaced header and shooting into an open goal for 7-1.
It was difficult to pick a standout player for the Lakers, though Saunders and Bunnell were involved in most of the dangerous attacks. Ruter saw a healthy portion of playing time in the first half and made the most of it, while Bush was creative with the ball.
“We need to keep that intensity for a whole game,” Bunnell said. “We had to change how we played and it worked.”