Women’s lacrosse defeats Davenport in close game on Senior Day


GVL / Sheila Babbit. GVSU Women’s Lacrosse vs Davenport University, April 10, 2021

Holly Bihlman

Last Saturday, April 10, the Lakers went up against the Davenport Panthers in their eighth game of the season on Senior Day, celebrating the five graduating seniors on the team. The sidewalk chalk leading into the Grand Valley State University Lacrosse stadium and the flower bouquets on the bench gave away the Laker’s pregame celebrations for the seniors, supported by a nice turnout of family and friends on the bleachers. 

Keeping the scoreboard busy throughout the entire game, the Lakers eventually made the last two points for the win at the end of the second half, putting the final score at 15-13. The Panthers are ranked ninth in the GLIAC Conference while GVSU sits in eighth nationally, making the playing field a little more even than some of the matchups they’ve seen so far this season. 

Freshman attacker Maddy Champagne started the game off in GVSU’s favor, scoring two goals within the first few minutes and following it with four goals for a two-point lead over the Panthers. Davenport’s offense kept the pressure on junior goalie, Payton Neil for the first half, gaining on the Laker’s strong start quickly.

A faulty pass from the Panther’s goalie landed in sophomore midfield, Kate DeYoung’s net for a breakaway goal in the middle of the first half, tying up the game 5-5. The girls struggled winning face-offs in the first half as the Panthers advanced on GVSU’s defense, scoring another two goals to end the first with a score of 5-7.  

In the first 27 seconds of the second half, DeYoung scored another goal for GVSU, directly followed by senior attacker Sophie Conroy’s goal-heavy second half. Senior midfielder Olivia Esposito started a scoring roll for the Lakers with their ninth goal of the game, followed by sophomore midfielder Maggie Hammer’s goal and Conroy’s second, to bring the score to 11-8. Just as the rain started to trickle in on the field, the Panthers caught up to tie it again at 11-11 with 15 minutes left in the game. 

Champagne and DeYoung brought it back up with another two points in a tense battle on the field, totaling out at four goals for both girls. The final score left Davenport with their first loss of the season and increased GVSU’s overall season score to 6-1. 

While the Lakers did come out victorious, the two-point win was taken with a grain of salt due to the fierce battles they left out on the field. Competing against a team ranked so closely in the GLIAC Conference can lead to some serious competitive nature, which the girls had to catch up with in the second half of the game, said fifth-year defender Anna Gritter. 

“We have a target on our backs being ranked eighth in the country and number one in our conference,” Gritter said. “Everyone is just out to get us, everyone is going to play their best game against us, so we have got to make sure we’re ready every game we play.”

Some of the frustration in the first half could have come from a lack of preparation for the level of competition they’d be facing, or from the emotional value surrounding the traditional Senior Day. 

Head coach Mackenzie Lawler said, “There’s a lot of emotions for that reason and our pregame routine is a little different, so I think we were just a little on our heels when we started the game. We didn’t come out ready to go and you can never think that a win is going to be easy. We really need to make sure we’re respecting a really high-quality opponent like Davenport and coming out stronger.” 

The Panther’s defense wasn’t letting anyone in during the first half of the game, but the Laker’s struggle to win face-offs wasn’t allowing the offensive players to make their plays up on Davenport’s goal. 

“A lot of coaches say, if you win the draw you win the world, so I think you really saw that with our momentum when we won a couple draws,” Lawler said. “I think they’re defensive pressure gave us a little bit of a harder time today; they crashed really well as a defensive unit. They just had some really nice cause turnovers and plays that we take for granted when other teams just give up, and they just fought hard defensively the entire game.”

After a lack of offensive pressure in the first half, the Lakers came out swinging in the second half, led by Conroy who took over the field, scoring four goals for GVSU in the last thirty minutes alone. Conroy gave some insight as to what the half time conversation looked like on the bench in order to keep morale up after getting scored on so many times and pushing forward. 

GVL / Sheila Babbit. GVSU Women’s Lacrosse vs Davenport University, April 10, 2021

“We don’t focus on them scoring, we focus on, what do we need to do next,” Conroy said. “I think that’s leadership on the offensive side.” 

Because of Davenport’s older team, leadership has been key for the Laker’s this season which certainly proved to be strong over the weekend as they maintained their winning streak. Team captains Conroy and Gritter showed a lot of strength out on the field to inspire some of the younger players to be ready for anything.  

“Davenport’s defense scouted us really well and they knew our strengths and weaknesses, but it was great to see our offense make some great plays off of that and handle the pressure,” Gritter said. “It was stuff we worked on all week in practice, and it just took us a little longer than it should’ve to just click in.” 

Coming up for the women’s lacrosse team, they’ll be traveling to Northern Michigan University this weekend to play two games on Friday and Sunday, April 16 and 18. Their next matchup against Davenport will be their last game of the season until the GLIAC Semifinals, where the Lakers hope to come out victorious once again.