GVSU soccer’s Marti Corby finding different ways to contribute

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Marti Corby (13). The Lakers square off against the Dragons of Tiffin University Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 and win with a final score of 10-0 at Lubbers Stadium.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff – Marti Corby (13). The Lakers square off against the Dragons of Tiffin University Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 and win with a final score of 10-0 at Lubbers Stadium.

Josh Peick

Last season, the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team fielded one of the most productive offensive players in the nation across the board. Marti Corby, a two-time NSCAA Player of the Year, ranked third in the nation in goals (25), first in assists (17), and second in points (67) last season.

This year, Corby has only four goals, but her contributions to the team are hard to quantify, except for her Division II-leading 14 assists.

Corby has become more of a facilitator this season. That can be credited to a number of different reasons, the biggest one being that her supporting cast on the offensive side of the ball is more productive than in previous years.

“Our forwards have grown so much. They are such a threat, and it is easier for me to assist the ball to them,” Corby said. “Last year, I think a lot of the time I would pass them the ball and get in for a cross, but now it’s get them the ball and they go to the goal.”

Since Corby has been in a Lakers uniform, the GVSU offense has run through her in the middle of the field.

“(Corby) has meant everything to (our program),” said GVSU coach Jeff Hosler. “She is a big reason why when I first got here I felt that we should play through the midfield more.”

By playing through the middle, the outsides of the field open up when Corby receives the ball.

“When Marti (Corby) dribbles, people just swarm,” said Gabriella Mencotti. “Having that happen, the center-mids will collapse on her which frees up the outside completely.”

Mencotti is benefitting from Corby’s distributing ways this season. She is tied for fourth in all Division II with 16 goals and fourth in points with 32.

“I know when she’s in, I am going to get multiple chances to score because she will play me a perfect ball in,” Mencotti said.

Mencotti is not the only benefactor on the offensive side. Forwards Kendra Stauffer and Jayma Martin are both in the top five in the GLIAC for most goals.

Even though she leads the nation in assists, her statistics do not do justice to all of her contributions on the field. An example of this is her performance in the Friday Night Fútbol game against Tiffin. Corby finished the game with a goal and two assists, but she factored into more of the Lakers’ goals than just three.

On a GVSU free kick, the ball was played into the box near the Tiffin goalie. The goalie made an aggressive play to snatch the ball out of the air, but Corby challenged the goalie for the ball and forced a deflection right to Mencotti for a goal. Corby never touched the ball, so she did not get an assist on the play, but she is the reason the scoring chance was possible.

“She gets no credit for that in the stat sheet, but if she doesn’t win that ball to begin with that chance never gets created,” Hosler said. “She has had a lot of those moments this year.”

Corby’s production does not stop on the offensive side of the ball. Just her presence on the field affects the opposing team’s offense.

“She is man-marked or doubled, which is really rare for teams to implore that type of strategy against a midfielder,” Hosler said. “It leaves you stretched in the back, or it just eliminates your ability to attack.”

When the other team does get an attacking opportunity, Corby is one of the first players to hustle back to the other side of the field to challenge the ball and start a counter-attack.

While her statistics might not warrant a third player of the year award, when watching the Lakers play, it is evident Corby is the most valuable player on the team because of the plays she creates.

“A lot of kids that have the talent on the ball that she does, they don’t do the defending work, they don’t do the ball tackling that she does,” Hosler said. “She is the most versatile player that I have ever coached.”