GVSU soccer eyeing fourth straight national championship

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Head coach Jeff Hosler directs his team. Grand Valleys womens soccer team defeats #4 ranked Minnesota State by a score of 2-1 Sept. 13.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Head coach Jeff Hosler directs his team. Grand Valley’s women’s soccer team defeats #4 ranked Minnesota State by a score of 2-1 Sept. 13.

Josh Peick

Winning three consecutive championships is something that happens in sports only a handful of times, but winning four in a row is an even rarer occurrence. It takes a special group of players and coaches to be consistently good for that long, and it is something that the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team could potentially accomplish this season.

After winning a third straight national championship in 2015, GVSU has the chance to solidify itself as the top program in Division II women’s soccer history. Currently tied with Franklin Pierce University at five national championships, the Lakers can take sole possession of most championships in Division II history with a sixth trophy this year.

“We have a very high standard for this program,” said Marti Corby, 2015 Division II Conference Commissioners’ Association Player of the Year. “We call ourselves a championship program.”

Corby is one of five seniors, four of whom have been with the program for all four years. These four seniors have a chance do something only one other class has done before in Division II women’s soccer history and win a national championship in all four years of their eligibility.

The Lakers lost only two starters from last year’s team—two starters that will leave the Lakers with big holes to fill this season.

Katie Klunder, an electric midfielder that provided a spark for the Lakers last year, and Katy Woolley, a top defender who was third on the team in minutes played, both graduated.

“We have to step into bigger roles as center backs this year with Katy Woolley out,” said Shannon Quinn, a junior defender who led the team in minutes last season. “She was a huge part of our team, but we have solid players coming back this year.”

While both players will be hard to replace, GVSU coach Jeff Hosler likes the way the defense is shaping up before the first game of the season.

“I think we are going to be better in transitional defending this year than we were last year because of what we have athletically and the depth of our roster,” Hosler said.

Although the offense has been unable to convert on some of its opportunities in preseason action, Hosler is pleased with the ball movement in the offensive zone.

“The creativity in the final third and around the box, we looked like we were in midseason form,” Hosler said.

The Lakers will need to continue to play in midseason form to face a tough four game stretch to start the season. GVSU will travel to California for two games, followed by a stop in Minnesota for another two game series. The fourth game will come against Minnesota State-Mankato, the No. 8 ranked team in the nation.

After finishing with a 23-1-1 (12-0 GLIAC) record a year ago, expectations are high. The Lakers are the top-ranked team in the preseason polls after finishing on top in 2015.

But with all of the hype and anticipation of what can be with this 2016 team, the players and coaches are still taking it one game at a time. When asked what the big games are this season, Hosler was without hesitation.

“Day one. San Bernardino,” he said.