Women’s soccer achieves conference title and GLIAC honors heading into national tournament


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Anthony Clark Jr., Sports Editor

After two shutout performances and a tough championship match, Grand Valley State University women’s soccer are the 2022 GLIAC Champions.

As the No. 1 seed in the conference, GVSU hosted all three battles on their home pitch and used it to their advantage.

GVSU’s first match on Nov. 1 was against Purdue Northwest (7-0), an opponent they managed to also shutout in both regular-season matchups (8-0, 2-0).

Applying pressure early, the Lakers opened the match with a goal  by senior forward Kennedy Bearden (her first of two) on an assist by senior defender Cate Brown (2:52).

Four missed shots by sophomore midfielder Emma Chudik, two by fifth-year forward Kennedy Metzger and senior defender Alexa Morello led up to PNW’s first shot attempt of the match (16:32) only to sail by the top right of the goal.

A few minutes later, Brown found an opening of her own as she sent a shot that found the goal (20:14) and put the Lakers up 2-0. Bearden would follow this up with her second goal moments later from assists by Metzger and sophomore midfielder Ryann Fetty (22:48).

It continued to be all about GVSU’s brute efforts on offense and defense as they put up one more goal that came from freshman midfielder Abby Winn (34:27) that was assisted by freshman defender Kacy Lauer – creating a 4-0 lead heading into the break.

PNW’s frustrations were evident within the first few minutes of the second as two foul calls led to the Lakers’ fifth goal by junior forward Taylor Reid (assisted by Metzger) at the 52:45 marker.

Eight failed shot attempts by GVSU and a pedestrian zero by the opponent would ultimately lead to an opportunity for graduate student defender Riley O’Brien within four minutes of being subbed into the match (69:18).

The Lakers’ depth came through in its seventh and final goal of the night as freshman midfielder CeCe McCarthy was assisted by freshman forward Kaylah Joyce (79:13) to close out the match.

GVSU’s second matchup was against Ferris State University on Nov. 4, an opponent the Lakers tied within both regular-season matches (0-0 Sept. 9, 1-1 Oct. 16). 

This match would be different from the previous two as GVSU was not only able to win, but put on a statement shutout that finished 3-0.

A quick pace was set by the Lakers as a solid volley from Lauer that was deflected by the Bulldogs’ goalkeeper would be cleaned up by Bearden to put the first goal on the board (1:52).

Just over 20 minutes later (27:00), Lauer setup Reid for a breakaway just outside of the box who sent a shot that laced the back of the net and put GVSU up 2-0 with plenty of game to be played. 

However, eight missed shot attempts by Ferris would only lead to more frustration as the Lakers brought a little bit of a cushion into the half.

Over 33 minutes of grueling defense and failed shot attempts would finally lead up to the third and final goal of the entire match (78:30) as Reid managed to send her second goal of the night into the net and secure the Lakers’ second-round victory for good.

Nov. 6 was the third and final test to secure the conference title, and the bout against Northern Michigan University was no easy feat.

The Lakers won their first regular-season meeting against the Wildcats at home on Sept. 23 (2-1) but would tie their second meeting on the road, 0-0 (Oct. 9). 

NMU controlled the pace early on but failed to convert on their first four shot attempts, the final being saved by sophomore goalkeeper Kendall Robertson. 

Two missed attempts by the Lakers and just over 20 minutes of scoreless action led to GVSU’s huge break as sophomore defender Stephanie Sturgeon attempted to cross the ball inside of the box, but the ball would inadvertently hit the hand of a Wildcat defender which automatically results in a penalty kick for the opposing team.

Senior defender Brooke Russell elected to showcase her veteran collegiate leadership as she braved the penalty kick that deflected off the crossbar and found its way into the goal, 1-0 (21:11).

A chess match of substitutions ensued as the Laker defense held the Wildcats to just one more shot attempt the rest of the half as they missed four more of their own, sending the match into the break.

Just under five minutes into the second, sophomore midfielder Nina Ferraro setup Reid who sent a shot gliding across the pitch and sunk into the far left side of the goal to put the Lakers up 2-0 (49:57).

The momentum wouldn’t hold up for long, however, as NMU was finally able to respond to the Lakers’ offensive attack with a successful break of their own (53:03) and cut down the deficit, 2-1.

Anxiety and nail-biting shot attempts fueled the remainder of the match as six attempts by the Wildcats (two saved by Robertson) and three missed attempts by the Lakers would ultimately lead to the final whistle and a huge celebration by GVSU.

“I am so proud of this team for winning the GLIAC Tournament,” head coach Katie Hultin said. “To win both the regular season and the tournament is a very challenging task, and we were up to it. The relentlessness and grittiness the team showed in the championship was amazing.

In her first year with the Lakers, Hultin not only secured a conference title but was also named the GLIAC Coach of the Year.

“I am incredibly honored to have received the GLIAC Coach of the Year, but this goes to our staff,” Hultin said. “We have the ‘Staff of the Year.’ They have been phenomenal, from our team managers to our coaches, they work tirelessly to make this program great.”

The Lakers also dominated the GLIAC season awards and all-team lineups: Reid, Offensive Player of the Year; Robertson, Goalkeeper of the Year; senior defender Cate Brown, Defensive Player of the Year.

“I definitely want to give all of the credit to the team,” Reid said. “I would not have been successful if it wasn’t for them. This is not an individual award to me – it is more of a team award. With a new coaching staff and having a younger team we knew that we would have to put a lot of hard work into reaching our goals that we have for the season and it is awesome getting to see the hard work pay off.” 

The All-GLIAC First Team included Bearden, Reid, Brown and junior midfielder Mackenzie Jones, while the All-GLIAC Second Team named Fetty, Ferraro, Sturgeon and Robertson to the list.

I feel extremely honored to be recognized as the GLIAC Goalkeeper of the Year,” Robertson said. “I just want to give a huge thanks to my teammates, who I can rely on to have my back in the good, bad and the ugly.

Five wins away from a potential three-peat in the national championship, the Lakers will look to capitalize on their pitch advantage once more as they host the first two rounds of the NCAA DII Tournament.

“Having big success both individually and as a team within the conference was super exciting and fun,” Robertson said. “However, we are chasing something much much bigger. A three-peat for the DII NCAA title is on the clock and we are more than ready to climb the mountain to get there.”

GVSU defeated Maryville University in the first round on Nov. 13 with a final score of 1-0. The goal came in the first half (31:36) off a solid corner-kick cross by Brown that found Reid just outside of the goal and headed the ball into the bottom left of the net.

The Lakers have advanced to the Midwest Regional Championship on Friday, Nov. 18 against Ferris State University in Bemidji, Minnesota starting at 1 p.m.