GVSU soccer senior Tara Lierman brings experience to young team

<p>Tara Lierman celebrates Gabriella Mencotti's goal against Ohio Dominican on Sunday November 12, 2017.  GVL / Archive</p>

Tara Lierman celebrates Gabriella Mencotti's goal against Ohio Dominican on Sunday November 12, 2017.  GVL / Archive

Kellen Voss

Any team is only as good as its leaders, and Grand Valley State’s soccer team has always had good ones. They have led this program to incredible success in the past decade, and this year should be no different with midfielder Tara Lierman at the helm.

Entering her senior season, Lierman has been assigned a new role with GVSU.  Starting in a holding midfield position, Lierman is now seen as the first line of defense for the Lakers, where she is asked to win pivotal one-on-one match-ups, rescue possessions and be the “quarterback” of the defense.

Lierman had a breakout year in 2017, starting all 24 games at midfield and posting the third-most points in the GLIAC (34), while tying for third in goals (13) and fifth in assists (8). 

These numbers earned Lierman D2CCA first team All-American and All-Midwest region honors, as well as being named first team All-GLIAC.

Since starting to play the sport in first grade, Lierman has always had a passion for soccer but didn’t realize she could play at a collegiate level until middle school.

“It was around seventh or eighth grade, and my club coaches started talking to our team about it,” Lierman said. “my two coaches talked to me individually and said I have a really good chance at playing at the next level, so I started to pursue it.”

Recruited by past head coach Dave Dilanni, Lierman found a home in Allendale because a coach advised her to choose a college for academics as well as athletics.

“Throughout the recruiting process, one of my coaches kept telling me to ‘go somewhere where you would want to go to school, regardless of if you were playing soccer’,” Lierman said. “So if something like a career-ending injury were to happen, go somewhere where I would still want to be academically, so GV was at the top of my list for that.”

From the grueling practices to the comical team dinners, Lierman has made lots of memories in her time at GVSU and she is fascinated by how successful yet fun each team has been.

“My top memory was probably winning the national championship in 2015, that was an overall outstanding experience to be part of,” Lierman said. “Each year is a different experience, and it’s interesting seeing how each team handles situations. Each group has had a different path to success, and that’s been the coolest to see over the past four years.”

Through years of physical training and hitting the books, Lierman has embraced the grind and improved drastically both on and off the field, thanks to the expert tutelage of Coach Hosler.

“Jeff has always pushed me since the day I stepped on campus,” Lierman said. “He’s known me since I was eight, he knows how to push me mentally and physically. He’s always been there and has pushed me to limits that I didn’t think I could reach.”

Because of the impact Hosler has made on her life, Lierman hopes to one day be a coach herself, specifically for the GVSU club soccer team. An exercise science major, she is looking to go into nursing school post-graduation and clearly has a bright future ahead of her.

Now that she is a senior on the squad, Lierman has accepted her new leadership role with open arms and has used her vigorous energy and outspoken manner to help guide the team.

“Typically as the year goes along, you get more experience and I’ve fallen into that role,” Lierman said. “It’s always been something I’ve wanted. Every team I’ve been on, I’ve been a vocal member, so it’s been something I’ve naturally walked into this year.”

When asked about this year’s team, Lierman is encouraged at the chemistry and sees the potential for a deep postseason run for this year’s team. 

“We’ve got a lot of young players, but we had a week before our preseason just to hang out and bond with the team, and that’s helped us on the field,” Lierman said. “We have so much potential, it’s unreal. I’ve never been on a more technically-talented team across the board. We just have to push to that potential, and work at it each and every day.”