GVSU lacrosse hosts and wins GLIAC Tournament

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Erika Neumen (3) rips a shot on Lake Eries net. Grand Valley defeats Lake Erie College with a final score of 19-2 on Friday, April 29, 2016 in Allendale.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Erika Neumen (3) rips a shot on Lake Erie’s net. Grand Valley defeats Lake Erie College with a final score of 19-2 on Friday, April 29, 2016 in Allendale.

Mason Tronsor

The Grand Valley State lacrosse team defended both its home field as well as the conference tournament title defeating the Findlay Oilers 20-10 on May 8.

The Lakers handled McKendree in their first tournament game, 19-8 on May 6.

The Lakers (15-4) continue to add to their GLIAC dominance. Not only has the program won four straight regular season conference titles, they now add four straight tournament titles to the trophy case.

“Winning the conference is always our first goal,” said GVSU head coach Alicia Groveston. “(Athletic director Tim) Selgo has done an excellent job of telling us we can’t look past anything. We have to win our conference first and anything that happens after that is icing on the cake.”

The Lakers made short work of the Bearcats in the semifinal matchup to set up the title game. GVSU jumped out to a 13-2 first half lead against McKendree, and much of the second half was spent on a running clock.

Danielle Tunnell led the way with four goals, while Meghan Datema, Erika Neumen and Kira Dosenberry each recorded a hat trick

Juniors Tunnell and Neumen led the conference regular season and tournament champs. Both players recorded hat tricks in the title game, and Tunnell’s performance was all over the place in the best way possible. She finished with five goals and three assists in the title game and nine total goals in the tournament.

“We have really been working in practice on clearing lanes,” Tunnell said. “So I could not have done it without my teammates. They all cleared the lane and it’s just wide open for me to make plays.”

The championship game was typical underdog versus favorite tale of the tape. GVSU came in as the conference regular season champs and the No. 1 seed. The Oilers were the three seed, which meant they had to play and win an extra game to meet the Lakers in the title game. GVSU received a first-round bye.

The game went back and forth like a pendulum, and neither team could keep control of the game. At the half, GVSU led 10-7, but the Oilers didn’t go away easily.

“We finished our mission against a very talented Findlay team,” Groveston said. “They did really well and gave us a serious fight for a long time and then we just started to pull away, so it feels really good.”

GVSU turned on the gas in the second half, outscoring the Oilers 10-3. The charge began with junior Ryan Skomial scoring two early goals in the second half to energize the Lakers. GVSU outshot the Oilers 31-20. Nine different Lakers scored at least one goal.

The Lakers also were able to bring back the faceoff draws. The Oilers controlled the faceoff circle in the first half, but in the second half, the Lakers pulled away with a 50-plus percent possession rate.

The defense made multiple stands as well, thanks to senior defenseman Caitlin Wojichowski and sophomore goalie Brianna DeMilla, who made multiple highlight saves.

“The second half we anticipated better,” Wojichowski said. “Our communication wasn’t really there today so we just had to focus on what other teammates would do. In the first half we let them dance around on the outside, but in the second half we really brought the pressure.”

The Lakers are a fairly young team, consisting of only six seniors on the roster. For those seniors however, winning the tournament title and continuing the winning tradition at GVSU is something to be proud of.

GVSU now awaits its fate with the Division II selection committee. The Lakers will try to become the first North Region school west of New York to qualify for the NCAA Division II Tournament. The Lakers were ranked fifth in the most recent NCAA regional rankings heading into the conference championship game.

“I think every year we only get better,” Groveston said. “As a result, I think we have earned that route too. Playing well through our difficult schedule definitely shows that.”