Women’s soccer opens spring training with loss against Broncos


GVL / Bethann Long

Zoë Murphy, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team concluded their fall season in a disappointing penalty kick shootout in the 2022 Midwest Regional Championship, but still made history for the program by crowning themselves as both the regular season and postseason GLIAC champions.

Just one day shy of four months, and the Lakers are back in action to participate in their rather brief spring schedule. GVSU faced off against Western Michigan University this past weekend (March 17) in an away match that saw the Broncos almost sweep the Lakers, 1-5.

Assistant coach Mario Zuniga-Gil, who just finished his first season with the Lakers during the 2022 campaign, stated that losing graduating seniors also has affected the Lakers’ play recently as the team “lost two center backs, so we have a lot of work to do to figure out how to adjust.”

The Broncos took advantage of the lapses in the Laker defense, as GVSU is still learning how to play as one while on the pitch. With a large amount of their strong veteran leadership moving on after last season, the Lakers had to adjust to new members who aren’t as accustomed to the pressure and speed of the game being played – allowing for the Broncos to cruise their way to victory for the most part.

Although the final scoreboard didn’t necessarily reflect it, the anticipation coming into the match was high with GVSU proving time and again they can keep up against out-of-conference, higher-ranked opponents – including the experienced WMU squad that is a part of the NCAA DI Mid-American Conference (MAC).

At the same time, however, the Lakers finished with a far better record this past season with their overall record being 16-2-5 and Western Michigan finishing at 5-9-5.

“(The) spring season is a time for growth and development. While we want to win and be on top, we want to focus on growth,” said freshman midfielder Sophia Morgan. 

Zuniga-Gil reiterated the words of his player when breaking down the team’s goals for the upcoming season next fall. After completing his first season with the Lakers in the one previous, Zuniga-Gil hopes to see the same amount of hard work and dedication from the players in order to expand on the momentum built this past season and return back to the national championship.

“What we’re looking to do in the spring is develop where the fall is performance competition time,” Zuniga-Gil said. “So, in the spring we look to give everybody even minutes, see why everybody in our roster is doing how they’re doing (and) just take that time to develop.”

Zuniga-Gil also said that although spring action leads up to the battles in the fall, the goals differentiate and evolve overtime as spring training is more about conditioning and preparation for a new season.

On top of the regular season and conference tournament titles as well as being runner-ups for the regional championship, GVSU were recognized for their hard work off the pitch during their hiatus from action. 15 Lakers were recognized with GLIAC honors as the list was more or less split down the middle between All-Academic (cumulative 3.0-3.49 GPA) and All-Excellence (cumulative 3.5-4.0 GPA). The list of players that received honors can be found at gvsulakers.org.

GVSU will travel to Ypsilanti, Michigan on March 25 to take on Eastern Michigan University in their second of five-total spring games with kick off at 2 p.m.