GVSU edges Tiffin to win GLIAC tourney

GVL/Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff

Jay Bushen

After a 2-5 start to the season, the members of the Grand Valley State University lacrosse team learned to play together, and — after winning their next 11 games — they got to celebrate together.

GVSU closed out the 2014 campaign by hoisting its second consecutive GLIAC Tournament Championship trophy after grinding out a 10-6 home victory against Tiffin University on Sunday.

The Lakers’ ability to defend their conference title seemed in question after the team lost three straight non-conference games during its spring break trip to the East Coast.

“After our games in Maryland, we all kind of grouped together,” freshman midfielder Ryan Skomial said. “We said ‘this is not a team, we need to collaborate and trust one another.’ I think having that talk, getting our feelings out and connecting on that level is what brought us together.”

The Lakers came together during a two-week break after the trip, and never looked back.

After a first-round bye, they showcased their collective firepower against the fifth-seeded University of Findlay on Friday night.

Skomial led the way offensively with five goals and 11 different Lakers found the back of the net in the 24-7 victory. Junior captain Sarah Lowe orchestrated the Laker attack to the tune of six first-half assists and finished with seven helpers to tie her single-game GVSU record.

“That’s really where she sets herself apart — she’s happy to share in the glory,” coach Alicia Groveston said. “She’s been excellent for us all season and she’s really growing into her own.”

The rookie duo of Skomial (seven points) and midfielder Kira Dosenberry (six points) came up big for GVSU in the rout, as did senior midfielder Meagan Emery and sophomore midfielder Carolyn Kraus, who also chipped in with hat tricks.

The Laker offense wasn’t as dominant in the GLIAC Championship on Sunday, but it didn’t need to be thanks to an impressive defensive effort in what turned out to be a chippy game.

“I know some people are kind of having some weird feelings right now because it wasn’t the greatest win,” Lowe said after the game. “But in my book, a win’s a win and a championship’s a championship — I’ll take it. I’d like to see some cleaner lacrosse, but we won.”

GVSU held the Dragons to just seven first-half shots and led 7-2 at the break. The Lakers finished with a 31-19 advantage in shots and forced 26 turnovers overall.

Junior attacker Victoria Devine led the way with a game-high three goals and four points while Skomial chipped in with two goals on eight shots to go with an assist in the victory.

“Obviously, we’re very excited to send our seniors off with two rings and two championships,” said Groveston, the 2014 GLIAC Coach of the Year. “That was our number one goal all season.”

Junior Alyssa Neumen also defended her title as the GLIAC Defender of the Year, while Skomial was tabbed as the Freshman of the Year.

Both Neumen and Skomial were named to the All-GLIAC First Team along with Lowe and junior defender Ashley Stoltenberg. Dosenberry, Emery, senior defender Brianna Shefferly and junior attacker Zoe Stiemann were named to the second team.

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