GVSU soccer tops GLIAC rival Davenport University 3-0 on Senior Day

GVL / Emily Frye 
GVSU soccer celebrates the graduating seniors on Sunday October 15, 2017.

GVL / Emily Frye GVSU soccer celebrates the graduating seniors on Sunday October 15, 2017.

Robbie Triano

With a combined career record of 80-7-4 (39-1-1 GLIAC), three trips to the NCAA Championship Finals and two National Championship victories, the No. 4-ranked Grand Valley State soccer team’s seven seniors have been a pivotal part of the program’s acclaimed success.

On Sunday, Oct. 15, the seniors competed on their home turf for the last time on Senior Day, defeating GLIAC rivals Davenport Panthers (7-6-1, 3-4-1 GLIAC) in a physical 3-0 bout. The game was supposed to start at 1 p.m., but inclement weather pushed the start time to 2 p.m.

Although the season is far from over, GVSU head coach Jeff Hosler couldn’t help but be sentimental about Senior Day.

“I’ve been a head coach for 12 years, and I don’t know if I’ve seen a senior class embrace the work ethic and the freshman class as well as this group has,” Hosler said. “Both on a personal level and a professional level, they’ve set us up for success. 

“This class and I came to Grand Valley together, so I have a real special place in my heart for them because we’ve been through this experience from day one together.”

Before the game, a ceremony was held for the seven seniors: midfielder Dani Johnson, forward Tracey McCoy, forward Gabriella Mencotti, goalkeeper Paige Pryson, defender Shannon Quinn, forward Sara Stevens and goalkeeper Jennifer Steinaway.

From the opening whistle, Davenport came at GVSU with physical play, setting up the Lakers for position and possession of the ball. At times, it appeared as if the Panthers were going more for the Lakers than the actual ball. However, the Panthers’ physical play resulted in 24 total penalties and three yellow cards, a number that Hosler though was too low for the way Davenport played. 

“I thought the physicality was brutal,” Hosler said. “Throughout the course of the match, to not have any players (ejected) or more yellow cards shown with over 20 fouls in the match is something you don’t see very often. But I think our kids did a very good job not being rattled by it and making sure we didn’t retaliate. 

“We played with a lot of class in a game that would be very easy to lose your cool.”

In the ninth minute, senior forward McCoy tacked on the first goal for the Lakers right in front of the net off an assist by freshman Ava Cook. The goal was McCoy’s fourth of the year. 

Davenport looked to tie the game in the 30th minute as forward Alayna Hilgendorf sprinted on a breakaway with only Steinaway in front. Luckily for the Lakers, freshman defender Cecilia Steinwascher came out of nowhere, slide-tackling the ball 10 yards away from Steinaway. The risk of causing a penalty shot inside the box rushed through Steinwascher’s mind, but she knew it was the only way to stop the threat.

“At that point, it was that I was too far away to stick my foot in front of it, so it came down to the slide,” Steinwascher said. “If I missed, I missed, but I just couldn’t give up the penalty kick.”

Seconds later, senior forward Mencotti jumped up for a header goal, her 21st of the year off a free kick lob pass by Cook. By the end of the first half, the Lakers led Davenport 2-0. 

With the strong winds blowing against the GVSU offensive attack in the second half, Davenport was finally able to control the possession of the game. However, the defense, led by Steinwascher and fellow senior Johnson, kept the Panthers’ offensive attack to a minimum. Hosler had more than enough praise for Steinwascher and the rest of the defensive effort.

“Ces was fantastic,” Hosler said. “She really showed what she was capable of and put it all together for us today. It’s good to see her and the rest of the team doing this in late October.”

The Lakers’ final goal came from Cook, who scored off a highlight-reel sliding shot from around 18 yards out to find the back of the net. The goal was Cook’s eighth of the season. 

Although emotions played a factor during Senior Day game, Mencotti found the ceremony rewarding for her home collegiate career. 

“We showed up to the game, and the girls decorated the whole locker room better than ever,” Mencotti said. “I mean, like balloons dropping and stuff being sprayed at us. It was unbelievable. On the field, you can’t ask for anything more than a ‘W’ on Senior Day.”

The GVSU soccer team (13-2, 7-0 GLIAC) will take to the road this upcoming weekend against Michigan Technological University Friday, Oct. 20, and Northern Michigan University Sunday, Oct. 22.