GVSU lacrosse goes out of state for 2016 recruiting class

GVL / Courtesy - Caitlyn Beasley 
Caitlyn Beasley

Caitlyn Beasley

GVL / Courtesy – Caitlyn Beasley Caitlyn Beasley

Brady McAtamney

The Grand Valley State lacrosse team has enjoyed success in recent years, from winning several GLIAC titles to making a name for themselves at the Division II national tournament.

This success is built from the ground up through extensive recruiting, and this year, they’ve assembled what the coaches believe to be one of their finest classes yet.

The incoming 2016 class of 12 players – all from out of state – will join the Lakers this year in their quest to achieve higher accolades in order to progress the program further on to the point where they become annual championship contenders.

“I think they’re super talented. This is probably the most ready-to-go class we’ve had,” Alicia Groveston, head coach, said. “I think this class will push our current players to the next level and want to get to that ultimate goal. For me it’s helpful, having them be able to play with that group that knows our system, and it’s going to help us so incredibly much.”

The class is as diverse with talent as it is geographically, though Groveston noted that the case of having zero Michiganders in the bunch was coincidental. She cited the newest crop of programs blooming within the state have given more opportunities to kids who are looking to achieve their goal of playing college lacrosse, giving the Lakers a heightened sense of competition when recruiting in-state.

This is where the newfound national success comes into play.

“When I first started it was a lot harder to recruit, but having the success we’ve had, it doesn’t get much easier because we’re in a harder bracket, though now when we send an email people don’t say ‘Where the hell is Grand Valley?’ because they know who we are,” Groveston said.

Abbi O’Neal, a goal scorer from Severna Park, Maryland, has had a heightened effect on this recruiting class. Not only does she figure to serve as an integral part of the team for years to come, but she helped the echelon gain two more important pieces as well.

After hearing of Grand Valley and visiting its campus during her junior year of high school, O’Neal fell in love despite having her sights set on larger schools, such as Penn State. She committed soon after her visit and raved to her teammates about her experience, and convinced two of her teammates to join her.

“I’m going to be playing a part of a great team and it’s just a huge part of my life,” O’Neal said. “I’ll be 10 and a half hours away from home, which is totally new, and it’s just a new chapter in my life. I’m just excited to be a part of something awesome.”

Elsewhere, Megan Yoshida will pack her bags for Allendale and make the lengthy trip all the way from Woodbury, Minnesota to join the Lakers.

Yoshida, who was first recruited by the Lakers in the fall of her junior year, was first seen by Groveston at a tournament in Florida. Both sides had mutual interest, and the former high school team captain committed quickly in the winter of the same academic year.

“When I first started looking at colleges I knew I wanted to get away from home and Minnesota doesn’t have many competitive lacrosse programs. I wanted to get into a program that was established already,” Yoshida said. “I am definitely excited to continue the growth of the program. We’re a fairly new team and the girls before us have put in a lot of work. I hope we can get to the tournament again and hopefully, in my career, win one. That would be awesome.”

Caitlyn Beasley, the do-it-all competitor out of St. John’s, Florida, was the final recruit to join the current class. In fact, Beasley wasn’t even on the Lakers’ radar until her last tournament of her senior year.

Beasley, who had previously been destined to Jacksonville University, decommitted three days before she was supposed to sign her national netter of intent.

“[For a bit] I didn’t even know if I was going to play anywhere, but I knew that when I talked to the coaches and toured I knew that this is where I wanted to go,” Beasley said. “I’m looking forward to making this season something that people will remember – something that our freshman class will continue what GV started with last year’s tournament, and ‘wow’ everyone and put Grand Valley on the map.”

O’Neal, Yoshida, and Beasley will be accompanied by Ashley Albright (Linwood, New Jersey), Ally Barian (Prior Lake, Minnesota), Abigail Dengler (Annapolis, Maryland), Anna Gritter (Fishers, Indiana), Alexia Hipsher (Newport Beach, California), Skylar Simmers (Davidsonville, Maryland), Sarah Stagaard (Allentown, Pennsylvania), Elizabeth Yeomans (Brunswick, Maryland), and Annie Yost (Wanaque, New Jersey).