GVSU lacrosse goes 0-2 in opening two games of 2017

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Ryan Skomial (1) holds the ball at the top of Lake Eries zone and sets up a play. Grand Valley defeats Lake Erie College with a final score of 19-2 on Friday, April 29, 2016 in Allendale.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Ryan Skomial (1) holds the ball at the top of Lake Erie’s zone and sets up a play. Grand Valley defeats Lake Erie College with a final score of 19-2 on Friday, April 29, 2016 in Allendale.

Brady McAtamney

The 2017 season did not begin as the No. 8 ranked Grand Valley State women’s lacrosse team had hoped, as the Lakers dropped two games in Lakeland, Florida to No. 1 Florida Southern by a score of 18-12 Thursday, Feb. 16 and then fell to No. 2 Adelphi 21-2 Saturday, Feb. 18.

The first 30 minutes of the season went well for the Lakers against Florida Southern. After surrendering three goals to open the game, they eventually cut the lead to a single goal and trailed by only three goals at halftime. The second half would play differently, as the Moccasins scored six of the next eight goals and the Lakers were never able to get closer than five goals after that.

Freshman midfielder Abbi O’Neal netted three goals on seven shots in her college debut while juniors Meghan Datema and Ashley Bailey each added two goals and an assist. Despite the opposing team’s score, junior goalkeeper Brianna DiMilia compiled a nice game, stopping 13 shots.

Two factors that played a role in the defeat were draw controls and shots on net. The Lakers were outdrawn 21-10 and the Moccasins managed 35 shots on goal to the Lakers’ 10.

“I think we needed to value the ball. I think in 60 minutes we played defense for about 40 minutes of it,” said GVSU coach Alicia Groveston. “It was a good quality performance overall, but I think our mistakes were poorly timed. We worked incredibly hard on one end and we turned the ball over. We need to take care of the ball so the defense can get a rest.

“It was just poorly timed mistakes and just pure exhaustion towards the end.”

The players echoed the statements of their head coach and emphasized the need to play to the whistle on every possession.

“I think that we definitely need to clean up the ground balls and be more aggressive when it comes to getting possession and keeping possession,” Datema said. “We need to play to the whistle and hustle to the ball on every play.”

One thing GVSU prided themselves on during the Florida Southern game was they refused to quit, and that is reflected in the scoring log—the Lakers scored three of the last five goals of the game and allowed only two goals in the last 17 minutes of the match.

Unfortunately for GVSU, the momentum gained from the end of the Florida Southern game would not carry over into Saturday’s matchup, at least not for the whole game.

Adelphi netted the first two goals of the game before Datema scored off an assist from senior Ryan Skomial to make the score 2-1 at the 26:02 mark in the first half, but the Panthers would score the next 18 goals before an O’Neal goal halted the run with only 3:23 left on the clock.

“Everything (went wrong). I don’t think I could pinpoint one thing that went super well to be honest with you,” Groveston said. “I don’t really have an answer for you and we didn’t have an answer for them. It was really one of the poorest performances for us I’ve ever seen.”

Draw controls and shots remained an issue, as GVSU managed eight draws and nine shots to AU’s 16 and 32.

In what is a relatively short season for Division II lacrosse, teams do not get many opportunities to lose big games, and Groveston made it clear that the Lakers are already looking at having to turn their season around with a change in mentality, and it starts with the players.

“I think generally, it is belief. We have a young team and a lot of these girls didn’t get to experience the thrill of beating Florida Southern (last year),” Skomial said. “Granted this was (the top two ranked teams), so we’ve already played the best teams, everything after this won’t be as good as the top two teams. We’ve already seen the best of it. Just seeing the positives and knowing that anything is possible can help us with the turnaround.”

The Lakers will look to earn their first victory on the season and turn things around when they travel to Sparks, Maryland March 2 to do battle with No. 12 Bentley at 3 p.m, followed by battles with No. 3 Le Moyne and No. 20 Pace the same week.