GVSU lacrosse’s Groveston, Wojichowski, earn GLIAC yearly awards

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Caitlin Wojichowski (33) carries the ball up field. The Lakers take the victory over Tiffin University Friday, April 1, 2016.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Caitlin Wojichowski (33) carries the ball up field. The Lakers take the victory over Tiffin University Friday, April 1, 2016.

Brady McAtamney

The Grand Valley State women’s lacrosse team enjoyed a successful season according to the lofty standards they placed upon themselves at the beginning of the 2016 campaign.

Despite losing a conference bout for the first time in the program’s storied history, the Lakers notched GLIAC regular season and tournament championships this season. Their performance earned them a berth into the NCAA tournament for the first time ever, where they lost to the fourth ranked Dowling Golden Lions by a mere point.

These successes could have been predicted. The accomplishments that followed the season, though?

Not so much.

Laker head coach Alicia Groveston won her third consecutive GLIAC Coach of the Year award while senior defender Caitlin Wojichowski took home her first and the programs fourth GLIAC Defender of the Year award.

“I didn’t expect to win it this year,” Groveston said. “But we didn’t let one loss define us, we performed the rest of the year, and we came out and were ready to work. That’s potentially why I won it.”

Groveston mentioned that she expected to her hear name called the previous years in which she was honored, but this year was a complete surprise.

“For starters, there was a lot of ‘firsts,'” said first year assistant coach and recent graduate of Grand Valley lacrosse Alyssa Neumen. “Her starting this program, she’s continued to have this program grow tremendously. She’s done a great job at getting these girls on track and hiring great assistants and getting this program going. She gets the players to perform and not only gets her a lot of firsts, but these girls get a lot of firsts (as well).

“She’s done a tremendous job at getting success out of these girls.”

With Caitlin “Wojo” Wojichowski, she was ready to step up and fill the role that Neumen herself played for years as a defender wearing Laker blue. For the first time in her collegiate career, she was required to step up and take on the responsibility of being the main cog in a defensive unit that would be relied upon heavily to achieve success. She performed admirably.

“It was pretty rewarding for myself. It’s crazy to think about how far I’ve come from freshman year,” Wojichowski said. “I’m just thankful for Grand Valley and lacrosse and the opportunity it has given me.”

Neumen had won the previous three GLIAC DPOY awards with Wojichowski as a teammate, and this inspired her to go out and win the award for herself to keep the trophy in Allendale, where she feels it belongs.

Wojichowski said that the Lakers intend to bring the award home each and every year following the programs fourth straight year winning it. She has complete faith that her teammate and the girl that figures to be next year’s lead defender, Kelly Liebovitz, will accomplish the task.

Just as Neumen feels Wojichoski is the right choice for DPOY, Wojichowski feels Groveston’s award was a long time coming.

“I think it’s very well deserved,” Wojichowski said. “She’s a great coach and she has learned a lot these past four years. It’s interesting to see how much she changes each year. It’s been awesome for her and I’m very proud of her. You always feel good about your coaches doing well, and she started this program. it’s her baby.

“Knowing that this conference thinks she’s as great as we do, it’s pretty cool.”

Having said that, Groveston couldn;t help but resiprocate the love shown by her star defender.

“For her, it just shows all the work she’s put in,” Groveston said. “She’s embraced her roles and learned from the best in the GLIAC (Neumen). I wanted to work her towards her goal and have her be 2nd team all-region and 3rd team all-American was fantastic. We’re getting noticed. I’m just so excited for her that she gets to end her career on such a high.”

The Lakers will look to continue the success that they have built upon next season, where they will return ten of their 12 starters looking to further build upon their individual and team legacies.