Club soccer team drops both games in Regionals

Courtesy Photo / Nick Schreiber
Ethan Rickelmann (14) and Kevin Lang (15) defend against an opponent during a past game

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Nick Schreiber Ethan Rickelmann (14) and Kevin Lang (15) defend against an opponent during a past game

Stephanie Deible

The Grand Valley State University men’s club soccer team was not expecting to play in the Midwest Soccer Alliance Regional Tournament in Indianapolis this weekend, but unusual circumstances afforded the Lakers with a postseason opportunity.

The Lakers nearly missed the regional tournament after finishing the regular season with a record of 11-3-3, which put them just out of reach of an automatic bid into the postseason.

However, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater both declined their invitations to the tournament, giving GVSU the chance to play two more soccer matches this season.

In the tournament’s opening match, GVSU lost to the University of Michigan (10-0-1) by a score of 3-1.

“It was kind of a weird situation in terms of how we were able to get in to playoffs; with one of the teams backing out we were next in line,” said GVSU head coach Jeff Crooks. “We didn’t practice for a couple of days there, and I think that kind of put us off in terms of rhythm.”

Crooks said although the Lakers had been off the practice field and thought the season was over, the team came into the weekend with the proper mindset.

“This team is not made up of anybody that says, ‘Hey, we’re just happy to be here,’” he said. “We represent Grand Valley State University … We take pride in that.”

GVSU was able to get on the scoreboard late in the game after a foul gave senior midfielder Nick Schreiber the chance to score off a penalty kick.

“We were still down so it didn’t really mean anything, but it helped out because in terms of how power rankings work, you get maximum points when you get a 3-0 win,” Schreiber said. “So actually we caused Michigan to not get maximum points, so I mean I guess that’s a small win.”

Schreiber said he thought that if the team knew right away that it would make the regional tournament instead of finding out on short notice, the athletes would have been mentally and physically sharper.

GVSU followed the Michigan loss with a second game right after against Indiana University (8-2-1). Unlike the first match against the day, Lakers could not score, falling 3-0 to the Hoosiers.

“We played well defensively as a unit,” said junior Bryce Murphy. “There were just a few mistakes that they capitalized on and we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. That really changed the outcome of the game.”

Crooks said despite keeping possession for most of the match against Indiana, mental mistakes cost the Lakers some goals and forced them to change their strategy throughout the day.

“If you make a couple of mistakes, then you have to change tactics to push forward to try to score goals,” he said, “… And sometimes you are left exposed, giving up some goals that maybe ordinarily you wouldn’t.”

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