Women’s soccer comes to an end in penalty kicks heartbreak


GVL / Bethann Long

Madeleine Smith and Anthony Clark Jr., Staff Writer, Sports Editor

Grand Valley State University’s women’s soccer faced off against Ferris State University in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship that resulted in an upsetting penalty kick shootout in favor of the Bulldogs, 1-3.

“I am incredibly proud of this team,” first-year head coach Katie Hultin said. “It is so hard to end your season on PKs, but it’s part of the sport.”

The upsetting loss comes after an illustrious season for the Lakers, which managed to clinch the GLIAC regular season title (12-2-4 record), the 2022 GLIAC Tournament title and saw three Lakers secure Offensive Player of the Year (junior Taylor Reid), Defensive Player of the Year (senior Cate Brown) and Goalkeeper of the Year (sophomore Kendall Robertson).

GVSU saw a huge victory at home against Ferris State (3-0) in the second round of the GLIAC tournament on Nov. 4 that ultimately led to their conference title victory over Northern Michigan.

However, the Bulldogs would get the best of the Lakers in a redemption match that took place in Bemidji, MN on Nov. 18.

The first 45 minutes of regular time saw both sides of the pitch fire off several shots (GVSU seven, FSU five) as the Bulldogs’ keeper prevented three-total looks by the Lakers while the opponent couldn’t get a shot attempted that required Robertson to make a save.

Although GVSU continued to control the offensive attack in the second half with an 8-7 shot advantage, Ferris State made four more huge saves while Robertson saw just one save total – and 90 minutes of scoreless action eventually led to the first overtime period.

“Our team possessed the ball for the majority of the game, but both teams were very competitive and had many scoring opportunities,” said freshman midfielder CeCe McCarthy.

The inability to capitalize on offensive looks would be the ultimate demise of the Lakers as the team would have three more looks at the goal in the first half of the overtime bout, two of which were saved once more by the Bulldogs. On top of which, GVSU held their opponent to zero shot attempts in the 20 minutes of overtime.

Immense pressure, anxiety and one-too-many close calls for either side finally came down to a do-or-die situation as the teams went into five rounds of penalty kicks. However, an exhausted Laker unit saw nine of its 13 players play all 110 minutes of the match.

GVSU was given the first penalty kick opportunity as senior forward Kennedy Bearden, the second leading-scorer for the Lakers all season (13 goals) lined up and successfully converted her attempt to put the team up 1-0.

However, the Bulldogs would respond immediately after to knot the score at 1-1 and begin the painful end to the Laker season.

Three-straight misses by GVSU and two more scores by the Bulldogs led to the final whistle as Ferris State took the regional title and advanced to the next round.

“(The) team is pretty upset with the loss against Ferris,” McCarthy said. “Especially because it ended in PKs and we were able to beat them in GLIAC (Tournament) a couple weeks ago. This game came with a lot of emotions and it was very intense for everyone.”

The Lakers were unable to crown themselves as national champions for the third season in a row, but Hultin said that the exceptional mentorship by the upperclassmen and the promise shown by the returning players should bring more success moving forward.

“The upperclassman really helped lead the way this season and they were incredible leaders and teammates,” Hultin said. “We will continue to grow and develop and prepare for next season.”