Soccer prepares for NCAA’s

Pete Barrows

Throughout the 2013 season, the Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team has permitted one goal and accomplished many. As one of 48 teams in eight regions to advance into the NCAA Division II playoffs, there’s one primary goal left to obtain—a national title.

GVSU has won an unprecedented nine consecutive conference titles, has advanced to four consecutive Final Fours, has won two national championships since 2009 and has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in all 11 seasons of coach Dave Dilanni’s tenure.

The Lakers have averaged 3.65 goals per game on 26.9 shots, while holding opponents to 0.05 goals per game on 4.9 shots. Seventeen different Lakers have recorded a goal, and six different Lakers have at least 15 points.

GVSU (19-0-1, 12-0 GLIAC) recorded the second longest streak of straight shutouts (13) in Division II history, the seventh longest across all divisions and went 1,228 minutes and eight seconds without yielding a goal.

For good measure, GVSU will also play the first two rounds of the tournament at home, where the Lakers have won a Division II record 62 straight games. Although when it comes to winning championships, history, records and statistics are only a part of the equation.

“We work really hard to get here and are very pleased with our regular season, but in the playoffs, it’s never easy,” Dilanni said. “Both teams in our bracket are well coached, and both seeds in the No. 2 seed bracket of our region are direct and physical. At this point, everyone’s good, tough—we just have to take care of ourselves.”

Six teams, seeded one through six, compose each of the eight regions, and the two finalists in each region will advance to the third- and quarterfinal-round competition to be played Nov. 22 and 24. GVSU is the No.1 seed in the Midwest region.

“Now that we’re through the GLIAC portion of our season, our energy and our nerves will amp up even more,” senior defender Sam Decker said. “We know exactly what every single game means from here on out, and we’ll focus on each team individually as they come. Right now, that focus is Sunday, whoever we play.”

Truman and Rockhurst will play Friday at 7 p.m. at GVSU, and the winner will advance to take on the Lakers Sunday at 1 p.m.

“There’s not one team that I’m hoping for,” senior All-GLIAC defender Kayla Kimble said. “I’m ready to play anyone that comes our way.”

Below are previews for both of GVSU’s potential opponents for Sunday.


Truman State University Bulldogs (No. 4)


Record: 12-4-4

Conference: Great Lakes Valley Conference

Momentum: one-game losing streak

Truman enters the national tournament for the first time since 2010 off a 2-1 overtime loss to Wisconsin-Parkside in a GLVC regional semifinal and is one of four teams representing the conference in the Midwest regional.

All-GVLC first team senior forward Trisha Shoemaker leads the Bulldogs with eight goals and four assists for a team high 20 points, although 14 different players have logged goals for Truman this season, with six scoring at least twice. TSU outscored opponents 30-10 on the season.

The Bulldog backline is bolstered by three all-GLVC performers, senior Suzanne Pelley, junior Lauren Seawright and sophomore Jessica Hanson, and has only allowed 10 goals all season. Senior Emily Bozdeck, another of Truman’s seven all-conference selections, patrols the pipes for the Bulldogs and has recorded 74 saves and 11 shutouts to go with a 0.48 goals-against average.

In 21 years at the helm of the Truman women’s soccer program, Mike Cannon has amassed a 277-100-42 (.697) career record and is the seventh-winnigiest active coach in Division II history, ranking him securely among the top 10 active Division II coaches with Dave Dilanni.

Key for Truman: Strike first. When Truman scores first, the Bulldogs are 11-1, compared to just 1-3-1 when their opponent beats them to the board.

Rockhurst University Hawks (No. 5)


Record: 12-5-3

Conference: Great Lakes Valley Conference

Momentum: one-game losing streak

Rockhurst four-game winning streak came to a skid with a 1-0 loss to Quincy (No. 2 Midwest Region, No. 8 NSCAA) in a GLVC regional semifinal and is another one of four teams representing the conference in the Midwest region.

9-0-1 at home this season, the Hawks out-scored opponents 28-12 and balanced first-half (12) and second-half (16) scoring succinctly. Although for the Hawks, who went 3-5-2 on the road and 0-3 on grass surfaces, playing at GVSU could present a challenge.

All-GLVC second team honoree junior forward Taylor Skala led RU with seven goals and 18 points, while all-GLVC first team member junior defender Kasey Lierz paced the Hawks with six assists.Senior midfielder Katie Kujawa, Rockhurst’s third and final all-GLVC recipient, made the second team and chipped in five goals.

For RU, youth comes in the form of freshman keeper Ali Wallner, who in 19 starts in goal, tallied 70 saves and 10 shutouts to go with a 0.56 goals against average. Experience, in turn, is provided by RU coach of 15 years Greg Herdlick, who is 155-98-22 (.644).

Key for Rockhurst: Play at home, away from home. Neither Truman or Rockhurst will have a home field advantage Friday and the Hawks cannot afford to concede an extra edge to the Bulldogs.


The winner of a first round match between No. 3 seed Wisconsin-Parkside (13-4-3) and No. 6 Michigan Tech (14-5-1) Friday at 7 p.m. will advance to play No. 2 seed Quincy (17-0-4) on Sunday.

To view the NCAA tournament bracket in it’s entirety, complete with real time score updates, visit:

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