GVSU soccer starts season on low note, drops first two games

GVL / Luke Holmes - Gabriella Mencotti (20) advances the play down the field. GVSU Women’s Soccer defeated Ohio Dominican University with a score of 3-0 on Friday, Oct. 15, 2016.

GVL / Luke Holmes – Gabriella Mencotti (20) advances the play down the field. GVSU Women’s Soccer defeated Ohio Dominican University with a score of 3-0 on Friday, Oct. 15, 2016.

Arpan Lobo

To sum it up in simple terms, it was a rough weekend in Kentucky for the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team.

The Lakers dropped both of their games over the weekend, falling to Bellarmine University by a score of 2-1 in double overtime Saturday, Sept. 2, and then losing 5-1 to then No. 3 ranked Columbus State University Monday, Sept. 4. Both games were played in Louisville, Kentucky.

The contests were originally scheduled for Friday, Sept. 1, and Sunday, Sept. 3, respectively, but they were rescheduled due to inclement weather.

Against Bellarmine, GVSU took the lead early in the second half thanks to a goal from Gabriella Mencotti assisted by Makenna Schoolman in the 48 minute. The goal was Mencotti’s first of the 2017 season. She was the top goalscorer in NCAA Division II with 29 goals as a junior in 2016. The assist marked the first point of the freshman Schoolman’s career.  

GVSU was able to hold the lead until the 85 minute when Bellarmine was awarded a penalty for a Laker handball inside the 18-yard box. Laker goalkeeper Jennifer Steinaway saved the penalty by Bellarmine midfielder Audrey Van Der Elst but couldn’t stop Van Der Elst from tapping in the following rebound.

Bellarmine would go on to win the game in the second overtime period thanks to a goal in the 109 minute.

Conceding the penalty shot that late in the game was a disappointing pill for GVSU head coach Jeff Hosler to swallow.

“In every match, there are certain moments that can be magnified,” Hosler said. “We really fell short in some of those moments. Closing out the game in the final five minutes, we talk with our kids all the time about the big fives at the start of halves, end of halves and after goals. And we obviously didn’t capitalize after we scored; we didn’t seem to have the same urgency to get forward in attack. 

We let ourselves down in those moments.”

While Hosler believes the handball penalty call was correct, he was skeptical of the referee’s decision compared to how the match had been officiated up until that point.

“It was a clear handball,” Hosler said. “The only issue I’d have is that it was the only handball called in a game where there were many clear handballs. Not that those other ones would have created an advantage for either team, but it was an odd time and situation to enforce it for the first time.”

Against CSU, GVSU again opened scoring as junior midfielder Tara Lierman scored in the 13 minute. Mencotti was credited with an assist on the play. The lead would last until the 18 minute, when the Cougars scored two goals separated by just 56 seconds. CSU added to its lead in the final minute of the opening half and led 3-1 at the break.

In the second half, CSU put two more goals on the board and would go on to take home a 5-1 victory. The two schools had met in the national semifinal in 2016 when GVSU was able to clinch a fourth-straight trip to the national title game with a 3-0 victory.

Hosler said the game again came down to certain moments.

“It was a such a back-and-forth affair with us creating a lot of good goal-scoring chances, CSU creating a lot of good goal-scoring chances, but we can’t concede a goal right before halftime,” Hosler said. “If we see that half out and go in down a goal, I think we see a very different second half.  

But for them to capitalize right before the half and then to score the fourth goal took the wind out of our comeback efforts.”

Starting the season off with consecutive defeats is a drastic reverse from the 2016 season when GVSU only lost once during the entire regular season.  

Despite the slow start, Hosler believes playing tougher competition early will be beneficial for a GVSU team that has 13 freshmen. CSU jumped from No. 3 to No. 2 in the Division II Coaches Poll, while Bellarmine entered in at No. 7.  The Lakers fell from No. 2 down to No. 14.  

“Even with a young, inexperienced team, we’re not afraid to play the best teams because we’re going to learn the most about ourselves,” Hosler said. “What we learned is we can compete, we should compete and we should win, but we didn’t do enough to win games.”

GVSU returns to Allendale to host Cedarville University Friday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m., followed by a visit from No. 10 Minnesota State-Mankato Sunday, Sept. 10, at noon.