GVSU Soccer obliterates SVSU 10-0 and Davenport 7-0 to cap regular season


GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Eli Ong, Staff Reporter

The day was Sept. 15. It featured a warm, late summer Sunday afternoon in Mankato, Minnesota. The No. 2 Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team had just beat a nationally-ranked Bemidji State University squad the Friday beforehand and looked to repeat the task against another nationally ranked team in Minnesota State-Mankato two days later.

GVSU ended up falling short that Sunday afternoon in the land of ten thousand lakes, as they would go on to concede a goal in the 85th minute and lose 1-0 to the Mavericks.

Since then, the Lakers have played four non-conference games and their entire slate of nine conference games. Want to know what every single one of GVSU’s opponents failed to do since that fateful loss to Minnesota State? Score. That’s not a typo.

The Lakers extended their shutout streak to 13 games after they demolished conference foes Saginaw Valley State and Davenport, 10-0 and 7-0 respectively last week. GVSU also set a new standard for defensive excellence in the GLIAC along the way, as the Lakers became the first team in the GLIAC’s 25-year history to not allow a single goal during conference play.

“Day-to-day, obviously defense comes first with us, you know, and you can’t lose if you’re playing good defense,” said junior forward Ava Cook. “It’s such a pride point for our team and it’s something we focus and work so hard on, and I’m really proud to see us achieve something so great in that area.”

The No. 2 Grand Valley State Lakers clinched at least a share of the GLIAC regular season championship with a dominating 10-0 win over the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals Sunday, Nov. 3, at Bob Braddock Field. The Lakers, who moved to 15-1 on the season and 8-0 in GLIAC play at the time, won at least a share of the regular season title for their 15th straight season.

Redshirt freshman forward Chantel Carranza matched a career high with four goals and added an assist while senior midfielder Riko Sagara provided two goals and three assists to lead the Laker attack.

“Chantel’s such a great player in the sense that her creativity on and off the ball makes it so easy to just get caught up watching her do her stuff on the field,” Cook said. “She’s always in the right place at the right time and that puts her in a great position to finish the balls we send toward her.”

Carranza would start the second half just as quick as she did the first, scoring just 38 seconds into the period. Carranza would go on to score again in the 50th minute on a Sagara assist.

“I think the idea of being hungry and playing a bit relentlessly has helped us a lot,” Cook said. “We just feed off of each other and then we have these spurts where we score two, three, four goals in a few minutes and that has given us a lot of cushion in some of the games we’ve played.”

Cook said the reason why they have been so dominant on the offensive end of the ball is because of two reasons: denying opposing offenses opportunities and efficient finishing near goal.

“When we’re playing defense so well, our opponents don’t get to control the ball very much and then we’re able to get more opportunities on offense,” Cook said. “Then when we get the ball in front of the net, we pride ourselves on being clinical finishers, so if we get the ball in front of the net, we expect ourselves to finish it way more often than not.”

The Lakers followed that stellar performance with a 7-0 win over the Davenport Panthers Friday, Nov. 8, to clinch an outright regular season GLIAC championship. GVSU improved to 16-1 on the year while also finishing  9-0 in conference play.

Riko Sagara opened up the scoring in the 15th minute when she finished off a combination from Radamaker and Carranza. Cook would score just three minutes later, taking a cross from Baron and beating the keeper in a one-on-one scenario. In the 33rd minute, it was Sydney O’Donnell with an acrobatic finish off a back-heel feed from Carranza.

“Syd’s the type of player where if she loses the ball, she usually recovers it right back,” Cook said. “That ability on defense combined with her really deep understanding of how to be an extra attacker is something that’s very crucial to our team.”

The Lakers will be the top seed in the GLIAC Tournament, which began Sunday, Nov. 10 with the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. against 8-seed Northern Michigan. Cook had this to offer when asked what GVSU needed to do in order to be successful in the postseason:

“There is a lot of sunshine and roses that come with (finishing 16-1), but something that we always try to keep in the back of our minds is having that mentality,” Cook said. “Remaining mentally tough out on the field is our top priority. It can be pretty easy for us to get wrapped up in the 13-straight shutouts or however long our win streak is but we have to continue to maintain our focus and execute to achieve what we want to achieve.”