Club looks to earn postseason berth

Courtesy Photo / Nick Schreiber
Junior defenseman Kevin Lang out manuvers his opponent in a past match.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Nick Schreiber Junior defenseman Kevin Lang out manuvers his opponent in a past match.

Being on the outside looking in is not always a good feeling, and that phrase almost never indicates anything good in the world of sports. And this Saturday, the Grand Valley State University men’s club soccer team will do everything it can in order to avoid that feeling.

Despite putting together a successful season at 9-3-2, the Lakers will have to put together a strong showing Saturday when they face the University of Michigan club team in order to secure a spot in the post season.

With a win, GVSU will be in the regional tournament, but a draw would put its fate in the hands of a conference point system.

“I’m not going to say we can’t go in and beat Michigan because we can,” said GVSU head coach Jeff Crooks. “The last couple of years we probably should have beat them. It just came down to one goal or one missed opportunity.”

The GVSU men’s club soccer team competes in the Midwest Soccer Alliance (MSA), a conference comprised of 44 teams, including an array of Division I and Division II opponents. The MSA is made up of four divisions, and the top three teams in each division make the regional tournament.

The Lakers are battling with Western Michigan University for the third and final spot in the Central Division.

Western Michigan and GVSU faced off this past Sunday in a match that had the potential to determine which team would make the postseason, but the match ended in a 1-1 tie. The result leaves both teams back at square one, requiring each to win the rest of their contests.

Crooks said the Lakers are in a tight spot due to a disappointing 4-3 loss to Purdue University early in the season. Still, he has been happy with the Lakers’ willingness to do what they are each capable of this season.

“The thing I like about this team is everyone does their part,” Crooks said. “Because we don’t offer scholarships, we don’t always get superior athletes [like Michigan], we get seven or eight walk-on caliber players so we need everyone to do their part.”

GVSU has not been victorious against the Wolverines in recent years, but the team isn’t focusing on the past — the Lakers are focusing on playing hard for 90 minutes on Saturday, said senior midfielder Nick Schreiber.

“Everyone understands what needs to be done,” he said. “We all understand we have to win on Saturday in order to keep playing soccer.”

Defense and playing as a unit are going to key in order for the Lakers to have a chance to play their way into the postseason, said junior Bryce Murphy.

“Michigan has a lot of skilled players that could probably play on the varsity team and they usually have ex-varsity players too,” he said. “We’re going to have to possess the ball a lot, sit back and defend, then wait for our chances and finish the ball.”

The Lakers will take on the Wolverines at home on Athletics Soccer Field Thursday at 7 p.m.

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