Lakers free up offense, rout Missouri Baptist

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Head coach Tim Murray

GVL/Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Head coach Tim Murray

Mark Washburn

Some offensive tinkering. That’s all it took to get the Lakers back on track.

Last weekend, the Grand Valley State men’s club lacrosse team traveled to Illinois to play three of the top teams in the nation, and finished 1-2. This weekend, GVSU traveled to Missouri to square off against two more, and finished 1-1.

GVSU lost to No. 4 Missouri Valley, 10-9, at Cadet Park in St. Louis on Friday. The Lakers took a commanding 5-0 lead early on, but Missouri Valley was able to rally back, scoring two goals in the second quarter and four in the third and fourth quarters. 

GVSU’s loss came after a week of evaluating and addressing the miscues from its 1-2 trip to Illinois.

“We worked on shoring up some of our smaller issues, and that showed at the beginning against Missouri Valley,” said coach Tim Murray. “They switched up defense on us, then we had some turnovers and couldn’t get some stops.”

After the disheartening loss, the coaches and players talked. 

Offense was a topic of note, and offensive coach Elliott Nichols made some schematic changes that would open up the field and require fewer reads from the players. This also meant there would be less offensive structure, which wouldn’t handcuff the team’s athletic abilities.

The team defeated Missouri Baptist the next day, 22-4.

“This was a tale of two teams,” Murray said.” Our offense played well, defensively we played well, and realistically, our team came to the game with a different type of attitude.”

Scoring was not a problem for the Lakers. 

GVSU started off by taking a 5-0 lead into the second quarter, and then a 13-1 lead into halftime.

Sophomore attack Erick Sundstrom led the scoring assault by netting six goals and assisting on three more. Captain Zack Grusell also heavily contributed to the offensive output (four goals, three assists).

“Erick does a great job. He’s as good without the ball as he is with the ball, and has the knack of knowing where to be when he needs to be there,” Murray said. “We put him in the position to be successful and with more space, it sets him up to be effective.”

Ten players scored for the Lakers, and 12 players registered at least a point.

“They started off man-to-man and then switched to zone,” Sundstrom said. “It becomes a chess match and we were able to switch. They are a good team, but it is really a matter of worrying about our team.”

Defensively, GVSU was able to step up and make key adjustments throughout the game.

“We did a great job of shutting down the middle of the field, which helps relieve pressure,” Murray said. “(Kyrn) Stoddard also made some critical saves.”

Stoddard, a sophomore goalie, was happy to see the communication on the back line.

“Our slides were there, we went in with a good mentality, and we had fun with this and aggressive play,” Stoddard said. “Our defense helps keep guys in alleys and they take away the angles.”

It seems the defending national champions are getting back into stride.

“We are having fun playing out there on the field and trusting each other,” Stoddard said. “I think there are some good things in store.”

GVSU, 3-3 on the year, takes on Aquinas at home Wednesday at 7 pm.