GVSU soccer defeats Missouri-St. Louis 2-0 in Regional Semifinals

Josh Peick

After a first-round bye, the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team beat the Missouri-St. Louis Tritons 2-0 in the NCAA Division II Regional Semifinals Sunday, Nov. 13. With the win, the Lakers (20-1-1) advance to the regional finals to take on Truman State Friday, Nov. 18.

In the semifinal matchup, the Lakers were met by a Triton team that won in dramatic fashion in the first round—which was held in Allendale—against Rockhurst Friday, Nov. 11. UMSL scored a goal in the second overtime period to break the scoreless tie and secure a date with the Lakers in the second round.

On Sunday, the Tritons pressed GVSU in the early part of the first half looking for a quick lead, but the Lakers kept their composure and halted any threats from UMSL’s offense. The Lakers responded with scoring opportunities of their own but could not find the back of the net.

With 10 minutes left in the first half, forward Gabriella Mencotti was fouled in the box and drew a penalty kick. GVSU coach Jeff Hosler sent defenseman Clare Carlson to take the penalty kick.

“A lot of confidence in Clare Carlson,” Hosler said. “When she follows her instinct and has to make a play, she always has in her four years.”

Carlson stepped up to the box and fired the ball to the right side of the goal. The UMSL goalie tipped the ball but not enough to stop it from hitting the twine. It was Carlson’s first penalty kick of the season.

“(I felt) immediate nerves, but you have to step up in those moments and put the nerves aside and do what you can to put the ball in the back of the net,” Carlson said.

The Lakers took the one-goal lead into halftime. In the second half, the Tritons pressed the Lakers again, but this time GVSU countered for an early goal.

Ten minutes into the second half, Carlson stole the ball and hurried the ball up the field. She dished it off to the right to Kendra Stauffer, who cut to the middle of the field and crossed the ball into the box. The cross found the head of Mencotti, who flicked the ball backwards and into the goal.

“We definitely created some good opportunities and exploited (USML’s) weaknesses when we could,” Carlson said.

Throughout the game, the Lakers built possession from the back-four defenders. Whenever GVSU goalie Jennifer Steinaway touched the ball, she passed to the defenders instead of kicking the ball down the field to midfielders.

“That’s been an emphasis all season for us, just building out of the back,” Carlson said. “It gives our backline confidence, it gives (Steinaway) confidence, and that’s where our possession starts.”

The decision to start possession from the back was a tactical decision based on the style of play of UMSL. GVSU’s defense focused attention on Tritons forward Taylor Miriam and built offense based on her activity.

“We wanted (Miriam) to expend a lot of energy chasing us,” Hosler said. “Knocking the ball around and forcing her to chase, forcing (UMSL) to sub her out and get longer rests, and then when (she came) back to still have heavy legs.”

The strategy worked, holding Miriam to only one shot attempt. The GVSU defense allowed only one shot on goal the entire game.

“(The defense was) really good,” Hosler said. “I think we got a little careless in the last 10 minutes of the game. Just some details down the stretch that we have to be better at to see games out.”

The defense and the rest of the Lakers did enough to secure a berth into the regional finals. Any nervousness that the team felt heading into the playoffs subsided after a win in the first game.

“A lot of jitters and a lot of nerves going into the first game of the tournament,” Carlson said. “Having it be (at home) and getting it out of the way with a solid win, a clean slate, it builds a lot of confidence.”

The Lakers will host Truman State in the NCAA Regional Finals Friday, Nov. 18.