Postseason Preview: GVSU soccer looks to carry success into GLIAC Tournament

<p>Cecilia Steinwascher, GVSU Soccer vs. Davenport,10/26/18, GVSU Soccer Filed.  GVL/Katherine Vasile</p>

Cecilia Steinwascher, GVSU Soccer vs. Davenport,10/26/18, GVSU Soccer Filed.  GVL/Katherine Vasile

Kady Volmering

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The Grand Valley State women’s soccer team secured their undefeated record in the regular season on Friday against Davenport University with a 5-0 win. Now, the team is looking ahead to starting the GLIAC tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

The Lakers are heading into the tournament as the GLIAC Champions, sitting at No. 1 and beating out their opponents in almost every statistic. Head coach Jeff Hosler said that the team’s focus was first set on Davenport, as to not overlook them, and then prepare for next week.

“We didn’t want to overlook Davenport,” Hosler said. “But knowing that we’ve found a way to come out on top in all but one match this should give us some confidence.”

One of the main focuses that Hosler has implemented throughout the program is possession. It has been an aspect of the game that the team has been working on for the whole season, and has been a part of the team’s great success this year. Freshman forward Madeline Becker said that centering the team’s style of play around good possession has impacted their matches greatly.

“Keeping possession obviously means we have the ball more often than our opponent, so it’s less likely for them to score,” Becker said. “We don’t possess just to possess, we possess to get to the goal.”

With the whole team working toward the common goal of handling the ball well, the girls are at an advantage of playing as a cohesive unit on the field. Hosler said that keeping composure during tight moments and against stiffer competition will help them continue finding success in the post season. Staying calm and active will help generate the control of possession.

“In my five years here, this is the best we’ve been building out of the back and keeping the ball,” Hosler said. “We’ve just to found more ways to be dangerous with it as we get closer to goal.”

As the tournament approaches, the Lakers are still taking the season day by day, working in practice to improve on a few skills which will help maintain their overall style of play. One aspect that the Lakers have been working on throughout the whole season is executing opportunities that are created close to the net.

“The past few games, for whatever reason, were more difficult for us as we tried to finish our chances,” Becker said. “We’ve been working a lot in practice, so I think the repetition and gaining the confidence in front of the net in big moment situations is really going to help us.”

The Lakers have been making sure to add specific drills that focus on capitalizing close to the goal to find the back of the net, a weakness that might hold them back in tournament play.

“Right now, we have an inability to capitalize,” Hosler said. “That’s got to improve from what it’s been the last couple of weeks.”

Learning that not every ball is going to be perfect and getting yourself in the right position is all part of getting closer to the goal and being able to send it home to score. Becker said that that the girls are trying to not take the first chance to get a goal, but the best opportunity that arises.

“It’s just about sacrificing and making the extra play in order to get the ball,” Becker said. “We need to get it to another person or get in it in the back of the net yourself.”

Although the Lakers are undefeated in the season, they are feeling confident about their ability to stay focused and improving day to day without their stats distracting them from playing their best soccer.  Becker said that they focus on one game at a time, because at the time, that’s the only one that matters.

“We need confidence and belief in ourselves that we can play well, but we don’t focus on the rankings,” Becker said. “It’s a cool statistic for other people to talk about, but we see it as just a number.”

Hosler said that the girls are very level headed and focused, and are always taking it one game at a time. The team is working toward the ranking that matters most at the end of year.

“Working on being our best every day,” Hosler said. “The only way you’re going to find true growth is if you find and strive for that growth daily, and hopefully by the end of the season you have enough collective growth to have some great success.”

Overall, the Lakers are looking to do more than just win the GLIAC tournament. Hosler is hoping that the team is able to play for a complete 90 minutes, and keeping up the intensity and urgency against the stiffer competition.

The Lakers play their first game of the tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 30 against Purdue Northwest at 3 p.m. at the GVSU Soccer Field.