Soccer advances after tough regional win against Rockhurst
In a season marked by consistently clinical wins and dominating performances, the Grand Valley State University soccer team proved on Sunday that it could overcome some unfamiliar circumstances, too.
On a blustery Sunday afternoon, Lakers took on Rockhurst University in their opening game of NCAA Tournament play. After receiving an opening round bye, the top-seeded Lakers hoped to build on their GLIAC regular season and tournament championships.
It was a cagey first half, with GVSU struggling to find their way forward through the winds that were driving them back towards their own goal.
“We took a risk,” said head coach Dave DiIanni. “Going into the wind for the first half … but I think scoring a goal would’ve been huge.”
The goal never came, as the first half was devoid of clear cut scoring opportunities, as many of the Laker attacks were stymied by Rockhurst clearances that the wind floated all the way back to GVSU goalkeeper Chelsea Parise.
Despite the difficult conditions, the Lakers outshot Rockhurst six to five in the opening 45 minutes. That aggression set the table for a more familiar GVSU performance in the second half – this time with the wind at its back.
The Lakers began the second half as expected, keeping the ball in the Rockhurst end and playing balls into the box, hoping to take the lead early in the second half.
Then, in the 54th minute, Rockhurst forward Julia Bartolacci hit a hopeful shot from 20 yards out that swerved through the wind at made its way past senior goalkeeper Chelsea Parise to put the Lakers behind for the first time since Oct. 12.
But Kayla Addison and the rest of the GVSU weren’t going to go out like that.
“I just got mad,” Addison said. “There is no way we were going to go out like that. That wasn’t about to be the last game, especially on our home field.”
Minutes later, Addison dipped and danced into the Rockhurst penalty box and found freshman Katie Klunder who put home the equalizer past the out of position Rockhurst goalkeeper.
“I looked around and was like ‘I have nothing, I have nothing,” Addison said. “Katie just came out of nowhere.”
It was Klunder’s first collegiate goal and it couldn’t have come at a more important time.
“It was overwhelming,” Klunder said. “It was really unselfish of Kayla to find me. To score my first one to tie it up was awesome. I couldn’t be happier.”
Addison wasn’t done. She continued to torture the Rockhurst defenders with her speed and less than 5 minutes later, galloped onto a wind-aided through ball, where she was taken down for a Laker penalty shot.
Addison coolly stepped to the spot and buried the penalty into the corner to give the Lakers the lead.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Addison said. “I got all my nerves out earlier.”
Casey McMillan iced the win for the Lakers in the 86th minute, giving the GVSU a 3-1 win as they advance to the next round of the NCAA tournament.
“We didn’t have our a game the entire 90 minutes,” DiIanni said. “But what we can take out of this is the character we saw out of each other and the fight that occurred once we gave up the goal.”
The Lakers continue their tournament charge in Allendale on Friday against Wisconsin-Parkside.