Against top-10 teams, Laker lax starts 0-2

GVL / Hannah Mico. Junior midfielder Alyssa Neumen passes down the field to a team mate.


GVL / Hannah Mico. Junior midfielder Alyssa Neumen passes down the field to a team mate.

Nick DeMaagd

The Grand Valley State women’s lacrosse team entered the 2015 campaign ranked No. 20 in the NCAA Division II, but a pair of bouts against top-tier opponents has left the Lakers grasping for a foothold after their first two games.

In the season opener, GVSU fell short against No. 9 Florida Southern, 17-12, before dropping a 10-4 contest against No. 5 Limestone (S.C.).

The first six games of GVSU’s schedule pit the team against six of the top 20 teams in the nation, most of which come from the East Coast. Known as a lacrosse hotbed with some of the nation’s top programs, the East Coast teams have demonstrated what, exactly, next-level play is.

Now, it’s up to the Lakers to prove they belong in the conversation among such top-flight teams – a feat they believe is within reach.

“I think we are definitely able to compete at a higher level and beat these teams,” said senior attack Zoe Stiemann.

Head coach Alicia Groveston had similar thoughts on the team’s performance.

“I think they can beat anybody,” Groveston said. “We didn’t do the right things at the right time and I’m waiting for a team to beat us because so far we’ve only beaten ourselves.”

Although Florida Southern and Limestone were formidable adversaries, the Lakers didn’t go down without a fight. GVSU utilized its offensive weapons to try to pick apart their opponents.

Stiemann found the net five times in the season opener against Florida Southern and twice against Limestone. Meanwhile, sophomore midfielder Erika Neumen notched three goals against Florida Southern and one in the tilt against Limestone.

The ground game and offensive pressure from GVSU’s opponents ultimately determined the outcome.

“We’ve been clicking a lot lately in practice,” Neumen said. “We definitely need to take more shots and take care of the ball better which comes down to stick work.”

A rallying point for the Lakers was a well-organized defense and constant communication. The team was able to get all but one of its clears out of the zone in the game against Limestone, indicating that, despite giving up points, the Lakers have had success making the transition to offense. While the team is still looking to get the offense settled in and get a rhythm going, the communication is there.

“We’re taking the loss as bittersweet,” Neumen said. “It’s been a great opportunity to play really good teams but we need to be playing all 60 minutes.”

After taking a step back and looking at the past two games, the Lakers know what they must do in order to prepare for their next four games.

Practicing the little things and making smart decisions will be the focal point of the next few practices as the team trains to go up against Roberts Wesleyan College. All the Lakers can do now is move forward – an easy step for a squad that’s already fired up for their next opponent.