No. 1 seed GV soccer survives and advances to the Regional Championships


Caleb Worpel

GVL Archives

Josh Carlson, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University (20-1-2) women’s soccer team survived the first week of the NCAA Tournament, advancing to play Saginaw Valley State University (14-5-3) in the Regional Championships. With home-field advantage and the no.1 seed in the Midwest region, the Lakers took on the Cedarville Yellow Jackets and the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds last week.

The first game against Cedarville on Thursday, Nov. 18 started off slow for the Lakers who couldn’t seem to get anything going offensively in the first half of play. However, coach Jim Conlon said a change in demeanor from the team lifted the Lakers into another gear.

“Our women have lots of different talents,” Conlon said. “They went into the locker room and just decided to go to a different basket of talents and just come out ready to go in the second half.”

After being held scoreless in the first half, the Lakers finally found a seam in the defense on a cross from sophomore defender Brooke Russell to sophomore forward Kennedy Bearden’s head that assisted senior defender Cecilia Steinwascher in finding the Lakers first goal of the game making it 1-1.

Heading into overtime, tensions were high for the no. 1 seed Lakers, but all was relieved in the 98 minute-mark as junior forward and GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year Greta DeLoach sent a pass to Bearden who– just outside of the 18-yard box– sent a rocket over the goalkeeper’s head for the golden goal, sending the Lakers on to the Regional Semifinal against the University of Indianapolis.

After hitting the game-winner, Bearden was excited, keeping her season alive and embracing her teammates.

“Greta played me a great ball,” Bearden said. “I took an iffy touch but at that point, I knew I just had to shoot and see if it goes in, and it did. It was an awesome feeling; my teammates hugged me and everything it was great. Now it is on to the next.”

In the Regional Semifinal against the Greyhounds on Saturday, No. 20, the Lakers took no time to get their offense going. Just 12 minutes into the contest, freshman forward Taylor Reid assisted freshman midfielder Stephanie Sturgeon for a “freshman-to-freshman” goal making it 1-0 for the Lakers.

The Lakers were far from done with their first half attack. In the 21st minute of play senior forward Catie Baron sent a ball right over the Indianapolis goalkeeper’s head making the Laker’s lead 2-0. Baron would stay involved in scoring plays just minutes later, sending a cross into the box that Bearden headed into the back of the net making it 3-0.

To finish out the first half of scoring it was the sophomore defender Russell who took a long free-kick that she sent into the back of the net, ending the explosive first half of offense for the lakers in the Regional Semifinal.

For the second half, the lone goal came from a penalty kick caused by DeLoach. The penalty kick was taken by freshman midfielder Ryann Fetty, making it 5-0 and adding the icing on the cake.

After having two slow starts in a row, defensive anchor Russell knew this game was going to have to be different.

“The past few games we haven’t shown who we are as a team and what we are capable of,” Russell said. “Going into not having a regular week and a half we were more prepared mentally, the practice was better yesterday, and I think (today) we just showed who we are and put our name back on the field.”

After having a career game against Indianapolis on Saturday, Russell said the game was about playing for her teammates next to her.

“Just imposing our will,” Russell said. “Doing it for the girl next to you has been one of our mottos this whole year. Today I put my body on the line, and I did it for my teammates. I wanted to put myself in a situation that would just make my team better overall.”

The Lakers now have a break until Dec. 3 where they face off against a familiar foe, Saginaw Valley State University, in the Regional Championship. The Lakers hope to continue to refine their offense that has the capability to be explosive at any given moment in a game and keep chasing their dream to make the trip to Colorado Springs and hoist the National Championship trophy.