GVSU lacrosse dominates GLIAC opponents

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Ashley Bailey (6) moves in on McKendrees net and waits for a pass. The Lakers defeat the Bearcats of McKendree University with a final score of 23-11 Friday, March 25, 2016 in Allendale.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Ashley Bailey (6) moves in on McKendree’s net and waits for a pass. The Lakers defeat the Bearcats of McKendree University with a final score of 23-11 Friday, March 25, 2016 in Allendale.

A.A. Knorr

The Grand Valley State lacrosse team never trailed in two games over the weekend. In fact, neither game was close. Laker head coach Alicia Groveston still wants to see more from her team.

“I’m happy we put some points on the board, some of the goals we had were absolutely beautiful,” Groveston said following the game against McKendree. “But I think for us, all cylinders have to fire in a game. Our defense has to be playing as well as our offense. Our offense has to be playing as well as our defense.”

No. 8 GVSU stomped McKendree 23-11 a day before routing Indianapolis 15-4 on March 25 and 26. The two games marked the opening of GLIAC play for the Lakers, and both games were played in Allendale.

The Lakers (4-3, 2-0 GLIAC) returned home after a long stretch against top opponents to start the season, largely located on the East Cost.

“It feels awesome, especially with such a beautiful weekend,” said junior Ryan Skomial. “We really anticipated some nasty weather, so it was really great and motivating to come out here and have the sun shining and having our parents being able to come out here.

“It’s nice being able to come back home.”

GVSU opened against McKendree (3-4, 2-1 GLIAC). Bearcat goaltender Amy Porta faced a lose-lose situation all game, as the Lakers fired off 50 shots, 37 of which found their way on net.

GVSU opened up an early 9-1 lead, but headed into the locker room up just 13-7 thanks to a four-goal McKendree run near the end of the half.

Bearcat attack Paige Salthouse potted her fourth goal of the game early in the second half, then GVSU’s Erika Neumen took over. Neumen scored a natural hat trick in just over a minute of play.

“In my mind she’s one of the best players in the country when she’s doing what she needs to do, and she can do anything,” Groveston said. “The great thing (is) she didn’t do it alone. She got fed on a couple, she got a great screen on another, another great pick to get open, so she couldn’t do it alone. Those were team goals.”

The Lakers rolled the rest of the contest. Neumen led GVSU with six goals. She leads the team with 20 goals this season. Sophomore Meghan Datema added four goals, while Skomial, Kira Dosenberry and Carolyn Kraus each grabbed three.

Groveston switched goaltenders at halftime, as starter Sarah Zwilsky allowed seven goals and made just one save in the first half. Sophomore Brianna DeMilia made six saves and allowed four goals in the second half.

“We weren’t doing what we need to do, (not) collapsing at all, I think that was unfortunate,” Groveston said. “We didn’t help our goalkeepers out at all when it comes to the ground balls in front of the crease.”

GVSU hit the turf again the next day against first-year program Indianapolis (2-6, 0-3 GLIAC). The Lakers tightened up defensively, but didn’t light the scoreboard up as much, securing a 15-4 win. GVSU let 40 shots go against the Greyhounds.

“I think defensively we really bounced back well,” Groveston said. “We caused 16 of their 28 turnovers. I think (the defense) felt they had a point to prove, which was nice to see that redemption.”

The Lakers led 10-1 at halftime, but outscored Indianapolis just 5-3 in the second half, partially due to using subs off the bench. Skomial, Neumen and Dosenberry each recorded hat tricks.

Zwislky and DeMilia again split the game in net. Zwislky had a bounce-back performance, making five saves on six shots, while DeMilia allowed three goals on four shots on net.

The Lakers have won the GLIAC all three seasons of the conference’s existence, and have yet to lose a conference game. Earlier this year, Groveston said she expects some teams in the league to test the Lakers in 2016.

GVSU will play two of those teams — Tiffin and Findlay — on April 1 and 3. Both games will take place in Allendale.