GVSU soccer continues on hot start, shuts out Indy 5-0

GVL/Daniel Pacheco

GVL/Daniel Pacheco

Kady Volmering

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After losing a bit of their momentum in the past weekend, the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team swept University of Indianapolis on Tuesday, Sept. 18, earning the win over the Greyhound’s in a 5-0 match. The Lakers advance their record to 6-0-1 in the season.

Tuesday’s game was the third game in five days for the Lakers with the previous two matches resulting in a close win over Northwood University and a draw against Ashland. Head coach Jeff Hosler felt good about the well-earned and needed win.

“It feels good to take the lid off a little bit,” Hosler said. “It’s been a frustrating couple matches over the weekend, with our inability to finish with the chances we were creating and not getting final balls to give us the opportunity to score. Being able to do it today, definitely feels good.”

The Lakers started out strong, earning two goals nearly back-to-back in the first six minutes of the game. The first goal was won by freshman Madeline Becker, who was assisted by junior Riko Sagara and sophomore Ava Cook. Not even three minutes later, the Lakers struck again with senior Tara Lierman finding the back of the net to advance the score 2-0. In the 19th minute, Cook managed to find freshman Greta DeLoach to send in for another goal, setting the Lakers up for a 3-0 lead heading into halftime.

 “A lot of our discussion had to do with our opponent,” Hosler said. “We talked about how we needed to continue to play quicker, be a little more creative in our combinations and move the ball.”

Even up by three points, GVSU was able to maintain their aggressiveness going into the second half. The Lakers barely gave the Greyhound defense time to breathe, as they persisted near the goal for nearly the rest of the game. DeLoach was able to score again quickly in the 48th minute, with Cook not far behind, adding the Lakers’ final goal at 56 minutes.

Cook ended the night with three assists and one unassisted goal. Unbeknownst to Cook, she was one assist away from tying the GVSU record for number of assists in a game.

“Honestly, I’m just out there to do what I can,” Cook said. “As long as I can help my team in any way that I can, that’s all I care about.”

For the majority of the game, Cook found herself fighting through two defenders, though it is something she faces regularly. With two defenders on her, that’s two less in the box the team must worry about. After a battle to lose her opponents, Cook looks to attack the end-line, especially while on the outside.

“When I’m attacking the end-line, I have to pick up my head and look for those late runs into the box,” Cook said. “That’s what allows us to get in and have separation from the other team. I’m always looking for center midfielders, weak side forwards and attacking mids to be in right above the six so I can slide them in.”

With a 5-0 lead for much of the second half, the Lakers were able to keep the Greyhouds out of the goal column. Thanks to the hard work of the defense, Indy hardly saw the final third with only one shot on goal allowed. Hosler said that the program’s philosophy is centered around possession because of the intricate piece it plays in the game of soccer and it often allows the Lakers to eliminate their opponents’ chances of scoring.

“We defend as a group, and our back five players all year have been really good in our possessions, and that helps so much,” Hosler said. “If we possess the ball well, we know how to respond when we lose the ball away.”

Despite the tough defensive lineup giving little chance for the Greyhounds to score, the Lakers faltered in their momentum for a few moments nearing the end of the game. Hosler said that the team was struggling to find midfielders and started to give the ball away.

“That’s the tough part, keeping focused,” Hosler said. “We talk a lot about how best is the standard, and how we hold ourselves to that standard, regardless of who we’re playing and what the scoreline is. I think that got away from us a little bit, but I thought it showed a lot of maturity to turn that back around [and] finish the game strong.”

Overall, the Lakers finished their five-day run on an upswing. Hosler felt that the girls showed a better sense of urgency throughout the game that they had lacked in the previous two matches.

“Any time you get out and are dangerous off the opening whistle, you have a good feeling about that sense,” Hosler said. “Scoring a couple goals early really settles everyone into the game, and it gives that confidence and momentum need to generate that urgency.”

Both Hosler and Cook agree that this win was crucial heading into the next couple days of practice, as well as thinking ahead to the next game.

“We kind of struggled the first two games of the weekend,” Cook said. “I’m glad we ended on a really good note. We started to put all our stuff together that we’ve been working on in practice, we started to connect. It’s what we needed for sure.”

The Lakers are looking forward to their next game as they travel to Hammond, Ind. to take on Purdue Northwest (2-4). The game on Friday, Sept. 28 is set to begin at 2:30 p.m.