GVSU hold FSU to one shot in 1-0 win

GVL / Archive
Taylor Callen

GVL / Archive Taylor Callen

Pete Barrows

For the Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team, sustained success is all a part of a recipe carefully measured and tactfully prepared. Like any other recipe, a single ingredient, a single game, can make all the difference.

With a 1–0 victory against Ferris State (8-6-2) Wednesday night, the Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team improved its record to 15-0-1, moving one game closer to the ultimate goal of a national championship. In one of its best defensive performances of the season, and that is saying something, the Lakers embargoed the Bulldogs, holding them to a single shot in the match. The shot came in the 12 minute mark and was easily defended by GVSU senior goalkeeper Abbey Miller, as she earned her 11th solo shutout of the year.

“Our defense played really well tonight,” senior defenseman Sam Decker said. “They’re old and committed, they know what works and what doesn’t and I don’t think the score tonight represented how we played, especially in the second half when we really put on the heat.” Five Lakers drew the crossbar on shots against Ferris State, but sophomore forward Katie Bounds netted the only goal of the game in minute 33 off an assist from redshirt freshman Olivia Emery. It was Bounds’ fifth of the season. The Lakers will conclude their regular season at Friday against Lake Erie College (4-10-1, 4-6-1 GLIAC), just one game away from completing an undefeated regular season.

“Most of us on the team don’t pay attention to the streaks,” Decker said. “For us, it’s just another game, another win to take care of. We just have to continue to take advantage of every opportunity we get.” It’s a feat that the Lakers accomplished four times between 2007 and 2011, a span in which the program garnered its first national championship and captured back-to-back titles. It’s a feat that the 2013 GVSU squad is attempting to replicate, in hopes of producing an end result every bit as satisfying. “A lot of teams will be done with their season in a week, but we’ll try and extend ours another month or more,” Decker said. “I’ve been to nationals three years in a row, the juniors twice in a row, the sophomores have had a taste and the freshman know the legacy.” “I can’t say what the future will hold, but once you’ve had a taste of being a champion, and then a little bit more, well I couldn’t see the season ending any other way. We have the team to do it, but everyone needs to be all in.” The last time GVSU went undefeated all the way through to a national championship, was the first time. The 2009 Lakers notched an undefeated record of 22-0-4 and claimed the program’s first national championship title.

The 2009 Lakers netted 88 goals, the second highest total in program history, and won 22 consecutive games, a school record. In 2010, GVSU failed to go undefeated, dropping a match and finishing 21-1-2, but raised the single-season goal record to 92 and paced a school mark for shutouts in a year at 21. Both squads became champions. Through 16 games, the 2013 Lakers have scored 62 goals, an average of 3.88 per game, a higher average than either the 3.38 or 3.68 per game averages boasted by the respective 2009 and 2010 squads. The 2013 Lakers have also tallied a shutout in every game they’ve played this season, save one, and pending playoffs, could realistically set records for goals against and scoreless games, distinguishing themselves as the strongest defensive squad in program history. “We have an experienced group of girls in the back who have a strong relationship with each other, and that shows on a weekly basis,” senior defenseman Kayla Kimble said. There have been plenty of notable highlights to speak of, along the way. A near single-game record 13-goal outburst against Tiffin, a 13-game shutout streak that matched the second longest mark in Division II history and the seventh best mark across all divisions and most recently, junior midfielder Charlie Socia and Miller swept the GLIAC Women’s Soccer Offensive and Defensive “Athlete of the Week” awards, as GVSU secured its ninth consecutive GLIAC crown. Perhaps what has distinguished the 2013 Lakers more than anything else, however, is how undistinguishable this team is on the pitch. Eight Laker student-athletes have recorded four or more goals, while 11 have notched at least three assists. All 23 girls on the roster play suffocating defense when their number’s called.

“At the beginning of the season, we all get together and write down our team goals for the season,” Kimble said. “This way, we are all on the same page and can push for our common goal, holding each other accountable.” The recipe is right on cue with where it needs to be at this point in the season, but as it is in baking, the process is merely a means to the end. And as in soccer as it is in cooking, style pales in comparison to taste and substance. “In the general sense of the process, you hope to win all of your games and you hope that you’re getting better every week and peaking at the right time, but more so than to be undefeated, we need to continue winning so we can hope to get one of the top two seeds in the NCAA tournament and spend a few more weeks at home.”

After four games in seven days, the grind of the regular season has begun to take its toll. With all the requisite ingredients established and a likely top seed in the playoffs merited, the question remains – why continue the recipe every day?

“At this point in the season, it’s important to find a reason to play, to the find the motivation to keep coming to work every day,” Dilanni said. “Of course, there’s the tradition and the legacy, but to be honest, I think we’re still looking for our reason. Our girls, they enjoy playing for each other and enjoy playing for GVSU, but I’m not sure that’s enough. We hope to have our answer worth playing for by the end of this weekend.”
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