Cardinal Down: GVSU soccer beats Saginaw Valley in overtime, remain undefeated on the year

GVL / Daniel Pacheco

GVL / Daniel Pacheco

Kady Volmering

The Grand Valley State women’s soccer team fought through one of their toughest games of the season on Friday, Oct. 12 against the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals. Playing through regulation time, the Lakers pulled through with yet another win in overtime, ending the match 2-1 over the Cardinals. The Lakers are now 13-0-1 in the season.

The Lakers started out strong and quick, scoring their first goal in the first two minutes of the game. After a bit of bobbling around the goal, sophomore Sydney O’Donnell nabbed the ball on the left corner of the 18’ and was able to send it into the goal, unassisted. The Lakers showed great determination in keeping the Cardinals off the scoreboard, despite pressure in playing against cross-Valley rivals. Head coach Jeff Hosler said that the team doesn’t worry too much about their opponents, no matter who it is.

“We talk a lot about dictating our style, because our biggest opponent is ourselves,” Hosler said. “When we fail to execute our ideas, that’s when we get in trouble.”

The rest of the first half was a hard battle between the two Valleys. The Lakers were making great efforts, creating opportunities near the goal several times but just barely missing the net at every attempt. 

Similarly to a previous GVSU opponent, Michigan Tech, the Cardinals played in a high press throughout the whole game. Fortunately, the Lakers were able to play better through that press, although found trouble executing some of their opportunities.

“Today our failure to finish could’ve been our downfall,” Hosler said. “I think we combated the high press better, Saginaw is just better at it. It showed some growth, but that we still have a long way to go.”

Tension was high throughout the first 45 minutes of the game and became quite physical later on in the half. Sophomore Ava Cook received one of the worst blows of the game, a hip check that landed her on the ground for a few moments before picking herself back up and continuing to play. Cook doesn’t let the high competition get to her head, though.

“My main focus is to not only mentally prepare myself, but get everyone else in that locker room mentally prepared,” Cook said. “It has a lot to do with bringing energy and hype, and making sure we all know what we’re here to do and what we’re to play.”

Heading into halftime, the Lakers had the lead over the Cardinals and went into the second half making a few minor adjustments and tried being more patient. Neither team was ready to give in to the other, and despite lagging behind by a point, the Cardinals maintained their level of intensity in searching for that first goal. 

In the 67th minute, they did exactly that, evening the score for the rest of the game. Down to the last second, both teams carried a sense of urgency to try and sneak in one more goal to earn the win, but neither the Lakers or Cardinals could find the net.

“Going into overtime is for sure the time to grind,” Cook said. “Everybody knows that it’s those first ten minutes that mean the most. Our mentality is to get after them as soon as we can, because after we do that it takes the heart right out of the other team.”

With ten minutes to score in overtime play, the Lakers had to create something quickly and be on top of their game to be the first team to score. Hosler said that the feeling both on the field and sidelines was quite tense and nervous as the clock ticked down the last remaining seconds of regulation play.

“We gave the girls a couple extra minutes to themselves, together, just on their own without any prompting, to kind of regroup and refocus,” Hosler said. “By the time I came into the huddle you could see that they were ready to play.”

Making a couple of personnel changes on the field, the Lakers were ready to face off with the Cardinals for the final ten minutes of the game. Right off the bat, Cook had several attempts at the net, barely missing.

As a whole, the Lakers played their hearts out, barely giving the Cardinal defense time to breathe after several tries to find the back of the net. Finally, in the 94th minute of the game, Cook was finally able to score, leaving the Lakers to win 2-1 over the Cardinals.

“We’d rather finish in regular time, but I’m so incredibly proud of us for how hard we fought,” Cook said. “Obviously SVSU is very good, and we knew that coming in. It’s a good thing to learn from for the next game, and know that we can work just as hard, and when we bring our game, it’s hard to beat us.”

After one of the hardest games of the season, Hosler felt proud of his team for continuing to fight for the win.

“Our kids found some serious adversity today, and continued to respond,” Hosler said. “I told them in the locker room afterwards that I’ve been around a lot of teams that have a hard time digging themselves out of hard moments, but this group continues to do that.”

The Lakers still remain undefeated in the GLIAC and are ranked No. 1. GVSU will face off with Ferris State on Friday, Oct. 19 in Big Rapids, Mich. at 4 p.m