By Andrew Johnson and Steve Gunn
CEDAR SPRINGS – There needed to be moments on Thursday when Coach Becky Might began to surprise if her Spring Lake ladies soccer crew would ever make the state semifinals.
Her Lakers misplaced within the Division 2 quarterfinals to Forest Hills Northern in 2018 and 2019, then didn’t get to play in any respect in 2020 on account of COVID.
On Thursday, on their approach to their newest quarterfinal problem in Cedar Springs, the Lakers’ bus broke down on a again street, and oldsters needed to ship the gamers to the sport, which began about quarter-hour late.
Then got here the second half of the sport, which was scoreless at halftime. The Lakers had three breakaway scoring possibilities because the clock wound down, however Cadillac goalkeeper Molly Anderson denied them every time.
However the lengthy, irritating anticipate a objective lastly ended with 2:53 left within the first additional time, when senior Zoe Komar fired a shot and scored from about 15 yards out.
Then freshman goalie Jessica Stewart made two nice saves within the second OT, and the Lakers headed house with a dramatic 1-0 victory over Cadillac within the regional championship/quarterfinal sport and a berth in Tuesday’s Division 2 state semifinals.
Spring Lake will play the winner of Friday’s Marshall-Cedar Springs sport in Holland.
Might sat on the crew bench together with her brow in her palms as her gamers mobbed one another in celebration, relieved that her gifted squad had lastly gotten previous its regional title stoop.
It was the Spring Laker ladies crew’s first regional title since 2013.
“We had some actually attractiveness on objective,” mentioned Might, who received her first regional title as coach. “We had at the least three pictures that would’ve gone in, and once they didn’t, it’s onerous to take care of that very same stage. However these ladies simply battle and go onerous for the objective. They by no means, ever surrender, despite the fact that we missed a pair.”
Junior ahead Meah Bajt, Spring Lake’s main scorer, mentioned her crew has the power to stay calm and get the job finished, regardless of any frustration that may come their approach.
“I do know our crew has quite a lot of battle in it,” Bajt mentioned. “So if one play doesn’t go our approach, we’re going to go after it once more. We’re going to maintain attacking.”
After a comparatively even first half, when every crew had three pictures on objective, the Lakers began controlling the play and dominating offensively. However the nice pictures they had been getting simply weren’t moving into.
Komar had an excellent shot with about 25 minutes left, however Anderson made the saved. Lauren Cavalier had an excellent shot about two minutes later, however Anderson made the save.
Bajt had nice possibilities with back-to-back breakaways with about 17 minutes left, and once more Anderson got here up huge in objective for Cadillac.
Spring Lake had a 4-1 benefit in pictures within the second half, however the rating remained 0-0, sending the sport to the obligatory two 10-minute additional time durations.
The primary OT began the identical approach, with Bajt breaking in on the Cadillac objective however sending a shot excessive and large with 4:50 remaining.
However Komar lastly ended the frustration with 2:53 left, when she fired a protracted, onerous shot from about 15 yards out that bought previous Anderson and gave the Lakers the one objective they would wish.
“All sport we had been near ending, after which I had a possibility that I assumed was large, however fortunately it wasn’t,” Komar mentioned. “It felt nice. Miah had an awesome move (on the play) and it actually helped.”
The Lakers had been outshot 2-0 within the second additional time interval, however Stewart got here up with a diving hand save on a harmful shot with about 5 minutes left, then had one other huge save simply over a minute later.
When the clock ran out, Spring Lake lastly had its elusive regional title and a ticket to the state Ultimate 4.
“It’s superior and wonderful,” Bajt mentioned throughout the celebration. “Our starting wasn’t the perfect, however we fought. It wasn’t the prettiest sport, however we actually put our minds into it and fought. Fortunately it went our approach.”
Whereas the offense needed to work extraordinarily onerous to realize its single objective, the Laker protection was glorious, significantly within the second half, conserving Cadillac from mounting a lot of an assault.
Eryn Bouwhuis, Reese Shelton, Emma Nicles, Kate Lewkowski and Kiele Stephenson had been 5 of the defenders who put within the powerful work.
“They begin out in a defensive place, however they actually don’t have a place, they’ve a job,” Coach Might mentioned. “So long as everyone does their job, we now have success. They anticipate first assault after which recuperate. When we now have it down, it’s very onerous to beat.”
Even earlier than the sport, the Lakers needed to overcome the problem of their bus breaking down on a rustic street on the way in which to Cedar Springs. Dad and mom reported to the scene and transported the gamers to the sport, after they took shelter in a close-by barn to keep away from the extraordinary afternoon warmth.
“We took again roads and had been within the nation,” Might mentioned. “We heard an enormous bang and thought we blew a tire, so we pulled over. However the tires had been positive, so we began to go once more and we simply couldn’t speed up.
“Then we pulled over and lifted the hood and noticed the place the exhaust had dislocated. Then we noticed a bit on the backside had damaged off and we had no probability of fixing it. I jokingly mentioned if I had some zip ties and tape I may’ve fastened it. We had been there for about an hour and at last bought inside a barn to get some shade. It was epic however fortunately mother and father got here again and rescued us.”
“It was loopy,” added Bajt in regards to the bus bother. “I used to be frightened we had been going to get to the sport and our mindsets can be elsewhere. However as soon as we bought right here we targeted on it being sport time, and now it’s a reminiscence.”