GV seeks redemption against old foe

GVL Archive / Rachel Dwyer
Erin Mruz tries to gain posession of the ball during the GLIAC quarter finals against Quincy

GVL Archive / Rachel Dwyer Erin Mruz tries to gain posession of the ball during the GLIAC quarter finals against Quincy

Greg Monahan

The Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team has not forgotten the last time the Lakers lost in the NCAA Tournament. Two years ago, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside took down GVSU 1-0 to end the Lakers National Championship hopes in 2008, and this weekend the team will get the opportunity to return the favor.

The circumstances surrounding Friday’s game are eerily similar to the game two years ago – it is the NCAA Regional Championship game, GVSU enters the game ranked No. 1 in the region and undefeated at home, and the Lakers are favored in the game on their home turf.

But the upperclassmen that experienced the loss to Parkside said they will be prepared for the Rangers this time around.

“Yeah, we are looking for (revenge),” said senior defender Kylee Merino. “Obviously we come out ready to play every game, but it’s still a little bitter from a couple of years ago. But we’re ready to play them, and we’ll be ready to go.”

The 1-0 loss in 2008 to Parkside is especially significant as the only shutout at home that GVSU head coach Dave DiIanni has ever endured during his eight-year stint as GVSU’s leader.

DiIanni said while many of the players who factored into that game have since graduated, he knows what to expect from Parkside.

“The players change, but the system stays the same,” he said. “Number one, they’re a very well-coached team. Mentally and physically they’re a very strong and fit team where you know you’re going to have to play 90 minutes of good soccer to win that game.”

The main concern for GVSU will be Ranger forward Shannon Becker. The junior led all scorers in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and was named Midwest Region Player of the Year with 16 goals and 12 assists.

“(Becker) was the player of the year – very dangerous. (She) can win a game all by herself, and they use her accordingly,” DiIanni said.

Stoping Becker will be an important factor in this weekend’s game, but DiIanni added it is not necessarily true that if they stop Becker, they stop the Rangers.

“If you look at the box scores, it’s proven that others are doing some scoring, too,” he said. “They’re not a one-trick pony, and we’re going to defend them like we defend everyone else and maybe give (Becker) a little special attention.”

Except for the freshmen, each member of the GVSU roster has the complete experience of the NCAA Tournament under their belt after last year’s National Championship, something the team hopes to use to their advantage this weekend.

“A lot of us have been here already,” said junior Kayla Klosterman. “We know what it takes to win the National Championship. We know the focus and the drive, and we know how to focus our adrenaline and energy into something positive as opposed to letting it overwhelm us.”

While Parkside may have gotten the best of the Lakers two years ago, Klosterman said they are ready to go for Friday’s game.

“We’re looking to get back at them a little bit,” she said. “Nobody wants to lose, and we went through it two years ago. So we want to come back and stick it to them, make a statement that we’re here, and you’re going to have to play the game of your life to get past us.”

Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday. The winner will face either Winona State University or Fort Lewis University on Sunday at 1 p.m. for a shot to go to the NCAA Tournament semifinals.

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