Lakers look to reload, repeat as national champions in 2011

GVL Archive
Junior forward Kayla Addison assumes striking postion while warding off the opponent in a past game.

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Junior forward Kayla Addison assumes striking postion while warding off the opponent in a past game.

This season, the Grand Valley State University soccer team has a great deal to live up to.

Since 2005, the Lakers have won six GLIAC championships, five regional championships and two national championships. The Lakers posted a 22-1-2 record, winning every home game and yielding no postseason points en route to a second-consecutive national championship last season.

With such a stunning reputation, many may ask themselves if this season’s team will be able to live up to the expectations of its fans. The good news: the Lakers have more than enough skill, determination and persistence to meet, and perhaps even exceed, their spectacular track record.

“Our biggest goal is obviously to win the GLIAC championships again,” said GVSU head coach Dave Dilanni. “We want to defend the GLIAC, and we take great pride in doing that. Going from there, obviously, we’re defending regional champions; we want to do that as well. Then, ideally, if everything goes well, we want to try and defend the national championship.”

It is clear that Dilanni, now in his ninth year coaching at GVSU, pushes the players with just enough force and compassion to motivate them to excel. During his time at GVSU, Dilanni holds an impressive career record of 157-15-10 and shows no sign of slowing down. Dilanni has practiced intensely with the players, and the results can be seen everywhere.

The team’s chemistry and skill set has never been better; each pass and kick is controlled, yet powerful, throw ins are accurate and forceful and the players seem to rarely tire, even after sprinting vast distances. Particularly notable are the team’s tri-captains, juniors Chelsea Parise and Alyssa Mira and senior Erin Mruz. On and off the field, the captains show captivating teamwork and spirit.

With 20 of 2010’s letter winners returning to the team this year, including eight of last year’s starters, this season’s Lakers have considerable experience on their side. However, the team did not neglect to add some new talent to the team. Six freshmen will be joining the team this year, as well as transfer student Autumn Jacobs from Indiana State University.

“We’re real excited about all the changes that have been made on our field, the lights and the benches, so we’re really excited to get going,” Dilanni said. “The girls have worked really hard through preseason and we’re going to try to put up a good product for the school to watch every day.”

The team’s season begins Tuesday at Winona State University. Their first home game will be Sept. 11 at noon against Saginaw Valley State University.

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