Falling in a quick 3-0 hole, the Lakers regrouped with three goals of their own, proving to Lowell they had the speed and tenacity to put up a fight. Spring Lake had two players leave the game, briefly, due to injury, including senior star Kate Vinkemulder, who received several blows to the ribs.
“Peyton (Parsons) and Kate got banged into and had to come off for a bit,” said Spring Lake coach Jason Vinkemulder. “Whether it was intentional or accidental, we had some players receive some body checks to the gut. If intentional, that’s not a great thing.
“Lowell is a more physical team than we are used to playing. I thought we adapted to the physicality pretty well, but that’s a difficult situation to be in.”
After getting over the initial shock of receiving an abundance of hip and stick checks, Spring Lake settled into the game nicely, with sophomore Macey Carey stepping up on the offensive end. Carey finished the game with two goals, while running the offense on a number of occasions.
Spring Lake went into halftime down 6-5. The two sides had showcased previously in the season that thy stood on even ground, with Lowell beating the Lakers 11-8 at home, and Spring Lake looked set on avenging that loss.
Lowell scored first in the second half, but Spring Lake’s Elena Antekeier scored shortly after to keep pace. Antekeier scored five goals against Lowell. She has tallied 15 goals in her last two games, showcasing unrivaled toughness and accuracy in front of goal.
“I’m really happy to see her put things together,” Vinkemulder said. “She’s having a great season.”
In the middle of the second half, Lowell again started imposing its will, firing numerous shots on target after controlling midfield. However, Spring Lake senior keeper Paris Heard made two key saves, including one off of a penalty, to keep the Lakers in the game. Though Spring Lake came up short in the end, Heard and Antekeier performed well all game.
Antekeier’s fifth goal of the game came with just about two minutes remaining, leading Spring Lake to within one goal of Lowell. Heard then made a brilliant save off of a Lowell penalty shot to keep momentum on the Lakers’ side. Spring Lake quickly raced down the field, set up its offense, and earned a penalty with under a minute to go. The shot was on target, but lacked any real power, allowing the Lowell keeper to comfortably secure the shot attempt. From that point on, Lowell ran the clock out to earn its second win against Spring Lake this season.
“I think the senior members of the team rise to adversity and don’t get shocked when things get tight,” Vinkemulder said. “Some of the younger players are still working out what makes lacrosse tick. But this was a far better showing against Lowell than last time we faced them.”
The loss dropped Spring Lake to 7-3 this season, with two of its loses at the hands of Lowell, and the third by Caledonia. Although this wasn’t the result the Lakers were looking for, it proved they could handle playing against a tough and fast opponent.
“To a certain extent, it’s letting the girls know we can face adversity and be just as tough as any opponent,” Vinkemulder said. “We can dig deep and finish games. We just needed another three minutes of game today and things might have been different.”
Most games, Spring Lake has been able to use its speed to dominate the ball and create space for easy goals. That wasn’t the case against Lowell, who figured out Spring Lake’s comfortable offensive moves and made adjustments to stop them. The Lakers did an excellent job responding with a few tricks up their own sleeves, but Lowell’s tenacity and physicality was ultimately too much for Spring Lake’s fatigued and slightly wounded squad.
Spring Lake ends its regular season with five of its last six games scheduled on the road. A trip to Grand Rapids Christian is next up for the Lakers on Friday. Their only remaining home game before hosting regionals is against Grandville, who they beat 20-5 in their first meeting this year.