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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Two big wins in NCAA Tournament, GV soccer advances to Sweet Sixteen

Courtesy GVSU Athletics

Following their loss in the semifinal round of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) tournament, the Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team (13-3-6) won two games en route to the Sweet Sixteen.

As the No. 3 seed, GVSU beat No. 6 seeded McKendree University (16-2-3) 3-0 in the first round of the Division II National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament before advancing to the second round and winning 2-1 against No. 7 seeded Maryville University (14-3-4).

After having two shots blocked back-to-back in the first few minutes, graduate midfielder Avery Lockwood gave the Lakers the lead with her third goal of the season in the 29th minute. The goal was assisted by freshman midfielder Ella Kleiver.

“I saw Ella get into wide space and knew she was going to get a cross off so I made a run to the box. I didn’t have a player track me so once the ball slipped through I made contact and let Ella’s cross do the work,” Lockwood said.

For Lockwood, a Grand Rapids, Michigan native, this is her first year on the team after transferring from NCAA Division I Xavier University. Despite the move, she adjusted quickly to begin the season and has played at an extremely high level for the Lakers. 

“Being a part of this team has been an awesome experience. My teammates have been nothing but welcoming and are a group of fantastic people,” Lockwood said. 

Now with a lead, GVSU would not only continue to display a firm defense but show off their fierce offensive firepower. 

In the 39th minute and nearing the half, junior defender Stephanie Sturgeon added to the Lakers’ lead before with a shot in the top right corner of the net, scoring her first goal of the season with an assist from Avery Lockwood. 

Despite the cushion being up 2-0, the Lakers would continue to play at a high standard and Sturgeon was hungry for more. 

In the second half’s 60th minute, a corner kick by sophomore midfielder Sophia Morgan would set up Sturgeon to score her second goal of the game. 

Extending her team’s lead once again, Sturgeon said her pair of goals was made possible by teamwork. 

I was able to get both of those goals from amazing placement by my teammates Sophia and Avery. They placed the ball right where I could be dangerous,” Sturgeon said. “I knew as soon as I saw that placement of the ball that there was nothing stopping me from finishing it.”

Now up late, GVSU was in full control and never let up. A large number of substitutions were able to be made by the Lakers, giving a majority of the team playing time and rest to some of the key contributors. 

As time ticked down, McKendree was handed just the second loss of their season, advancing GVSU to the second round of the tournament where the Lakers faced No. 7 seeded Maryville.

“Our team has been and is prepared for the next game. We’ve spent the whole season working as hard as we can as a unit,” Sturgeon said about their next match. 

Coming off a late win against Northern Michigan University, Maryville would start the match strong and produce many shots against the Lakers. Still, a strong defensive stand and GVSU’s redshirt freshman goalkeeper Isabel Imes would hold the Saints scoreless until the second half.

The first goal of the match would come in the 34th minute when Sturgeon would head a corner kick from Morgan. Morgan added her second assist and Sturgeon’s third straight of the tournament. 

With Sturgeon’s red-hot play, the Lakers grabbed the lead in the first 45 minutes.

Out of halftime, junior midfielder Ryann Fetty took a pass from sophomore midfielder Abby Winn in Maryville’s box and buried it into the bottom right corner of the net, extending her team’s lead to 2-0.

This lead would quickly be cut in half when roughly a minute later a long shot by Maryville would get past the Lakers’ defense to find its way into the back of the net. 

GVSU defended the rest of Maryville’s efforts to score in the final quarter of the match and the game would end in a 2-1 victory for the Lakers.

After helping the Lakers to two huge wins, the Lakers’ junior Sturgeon was confident about her team and their potential to add to their playoff run.

“The post-season is all about using the things we learned from our coaching staff and each other to just finish on top,” Sturgeon said. “Now it’s about taking care of the details and making sure we support each other the best way we can. I believe when we’re unified together, no one can stop us.”

GVSU will next take on the region’s No.1 seed, Ashland University (19-0-4), in the Midwest Regional Finals at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1.

The two teams previously matched up in the first game of the season, where Ashland would win 1-0 at the GVSU Soccer Field in Allendale, Michigan. Now in the Sweet Sixteen, the Lakers will look to get revenge and hand the Eagles their first loss of the season.

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