GVL Archive / Rachel Dwyer
Erin Mruz tries to gain posession of the ball during the GLIAC quarter finals against Quincy

GVL Archive / Rachel Dwyer Erin Mruz tries to gain posession of the ball during the GLIAC quarter finals against Quincy

Greg Monahan

Louisville, Ky. – NCAA Division II women’s soccer has a repeat national champion for the first time since 2001, and the honor belongs to Grand Valley State University.

The Lakers received an early goal from junior midfielder Erin Mruz and continued to pour it on throughout the game, cruising to a 4-0 win over the University of California-San Diego for the team’s second-ever National Championship.

“It feels great not only to win, but to play our best,” said sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea Parise, who earned the shutout in goal. “We did so well this game, and how many goals we scored on top of that is the icing on the cake.”

The Lakers set a NCAA Division II team record with their 21st shutout of the season, surpassing West Florida University’s mark of 20 set in 2008. The Lakers scored the most goals in NCAA Division II and allowed the fewest during the season, outscoring their opponents 93-5.

At the start of the year, GVSU head coach Dave DiIanni said the team’s goal was to lead the NCAA in scoring offense and defense. It was a goal he admitted he did not actually think the Lakers would be able to pull off.

“That’s one of those superficial goals that we put out at the start of the season,” he said. “There’s no doubt that last year’s team and this year’s team – because we were so good defensively – as a team that’s why we’re where we’re at. Our goals come from being able to frustrate other players.”

UC-San Diego, the last team to repeat as National Champions in 2000-01, went down early and played the majority of the game in their own end.

As the final seconds clicked off the clock, the team mobbed each other at midfield amidst chants of “back-to-back” from the fans in the crowd who made the trip from Michigan.

“To be honest, it really hasn’t hit me yet,” said Parise. “It’s still kind of surreal, I’m still trying to feel all of the emotions right now. To be a part of the program, the tradition, and for all of the people who have gone through this program, that’s what we stand for, and it feels great.”

The start of the game was delayed for an hour after heavy snow covered the field late Friday night and into Saturday morning. UC-San Diego, used to playing in warmer climates, struggled to get much going offensively and ended the game without a shot on target.

“It’s eleven players committed to not letting somebody score,” DiIanni said. “The run we’ve had, especially in the tournament, not giving up a goal, has been absolutely fantastic.”

GVSU tore through the NCAA playoffs, outscoring its five opponents 17-0 in the tournament, the most goals ever scored by a team in the NCAA Division II tourney. The Lakers did not surrender a goal in the final eight games of their season.

The team sent off five seniors – Kristin Eible, Kylee Merino, Jenna Wenglinski, Erika Pitroff and Jaleen Dingledine – with another National Championship.

“It’s definitely a great way to end my career,” said Dingledine, who netted GVSU’s third goal early in the second half. “Just to win is icing on the cake. It was such a great game, I couldn’t be happier to be a part of Grand Valley and win the way we did.”

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