They’re In!

Joe Maher-Edgin

The best teams in sports find a way to win no matter what, and that is exactly what the Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team did Thursday afternoon in its NCCA Semifinal match against California State University-Chico.

Despite jumping onto an early lead after junior Maria Brown scored just 53 seconds into the game, immense pressure from Chico State was too much for the Lakers to handle. The Wildcats leveled the score through a headed goal to the back post by Chico State’s Lisa Webster in the 86th minute. Two overtime periods expired, still deadlocked and the game went into a penalty kick shoot out.

Junior goalkeeper Chelsea Parise was pivotal in sending GVSU on to the final, especially when the match went into a shoot out.

Forwards Kayla Addison and Charlie Socia put GVSU up 2-1 after three penalty kicks. An energetic and animated Parise then made back-to-back saves to hold onto the advantage. Chico State goalkeeper Brianna Furner guessed correctly to stop Erin Mruz’s kick before Blake Lopes evened things up at 2-2 for Chico State.

Leading goal scorer for the Lakers Ashley Botts made it 3-2 before Parise made a diving save to end the shoot out and send the Lakers into the Final for the third year in a row.

“I think our best players have to be their best in big games and she was certainly one of those players,” Dilanni said about his goalkeeper. “We expect those things out of (Parise) and certainly without the saves she made in (penalty kicks) we’re not advancing on to the championship game.”

Parise said she was a bit confused after saving the last kick and was ready for one of her teammates to step up to take the next kick.

“I don’t really keep track of what number shooter we’re on,” Parise explained.

She said she thought nothing of that final save, unaware that she had won the game.

“I saw the whole team running at me and I thought, ‘oh my gosh we did it again…we’re going back to the national championship again,’” Parise said. “It’s a feeling you can’t describe. It’s something that you think about but you never really can wrap your mind around: the final game…the pinnacle moment. I couldn’t ask for better group of girls and it truly has been a great year.”

The 2011 title match is set and the Lakers will face Saint Rose on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. from Ashton Brosnaham Park in Pensacola, Fla. Live statistics and video will be available on

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