FRUITPORT – The Fruitport boys soccer team had been struggling to score goals lately.
At one point during Tuesday’s rivalry matchup with Spring Lake, the Trojans had gone more than 135 minutes without a goal, including 80 minutes of Saturday’s game with Reeths-Puffer, which ended in a 0-0 tie.
The drought ended against the Lakers, and two goals turned out to be enough for the Trojans to claim an exciting 2-0 victory at home over Spring Lake in O-K Blue conference action.
“I’m really happy for my boys,” said Trojan head coach Dan Hazekamp, whose team is now 8-2-2 overall and 3-2-1 in conference play. “I’m proud of them. This is always one of those games you circle on the calendar. They’ve been working extremely hard, and this conference is tough. I’m sure we’ll see these guys one or two more times. But we want to keep building for more success.”
The victory broke a tie with Spring Lake for fourth place in the conference standings. The Trojans trail Hudsonville Unity Christian, Holland Christian and Allendale in the O-K Blue.
“It felt good,” said junior Isaac VanderMolen about the rivalry victory. “But we’re hoping for bigger things.”
The two teams played a competitive first 40 minutes with the score remaining 0-0 at halftime. despite Fruitport having a 5-4 edge in shots on goal.
The game remained scoreless until Fruitport sophomore Ryder Merkins hit a high floating shot that beat the outstretched hands of the leaping Spring Lake goalkeeper with 24:53 remaining in the contest.
“It felt great,” Merkins said about his goal. “I saw it floating and thought the keeper was going to have it. It ended up going in and I didn’t know what to do. I was super excited to score a goal against our rivals in my first year on varsity.”
“We’ll take it any way we can get it,” Hazekamp said about Merkins’ goal snapping the drought. “Spring Lake is a good opponent and tough to score goals on. It was a different and unorthodox way to do it, but finally something went in.”
The Trojans maintained possession of the ball for much of the remainder of the game, but nearly gave up goal when a Spring Lake shot hit the upper corner of the right cross bar of the goal with 4:20 remaining.
“They’re a super tough team,” Hazekamp said about the scare. “You know they’re not going to give in. They’ll keep pressing. We knew it was a matter of time before they generated some chances. It was fortunate and that’s what happens in games like this sometimes.”
With just 51 seconds remaining, VanderMolen found the back of the net to seal the 2-0 victory for Fruitport.
“It felt amazing,” VanderMolen said. “It had been a while since I got one on net. I was just excited and ecstatic. It felt amazing.”
Fruitport outshot Spring Lake 11-7 on the night with Trojan goalkeeper Logan Werschem picking up the shutout win.