GVSU soccer No. 1 rank put to the test; the Lakers make the grade
Grand Valley State University soccer has welcomed all takers this season—facing off against three Division II NSCAA top 13 ranked opponents—and through five games, the freshly No. 1 ranked Laker side remains untarnished.
GVSU, 4-0-1, boasts a record unblemished save a scoreless tie with No. 3 Armstrong Atlantic State,
and for only the second time in program history and the first time since 2006, when the Lakers started
their eventual NCAA Division II championship campaign 6-0-0, GVSU has not surrendered a goal
through the first five games.
“I think the parallel between this team and the 2006 squad is that everyday, we recognize that this is
truly a team effort for us,” GVSU coach Dave Dilanni said. “Different players are playing different roles
in different games and if one player isn’t playing as well as maybe they should, we have players
coming off the bench ready to fill that role.”
In its first game as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team, GVSU opened GLIAC play Friday with a 2-0 victory
over Ashland. Junior Jenny Shaba started the scoring off five minutes and 15 seconds into the first
half. It was Shaba’s first goal of the season on a roster that evenly balances the scoring load.
“We’re very fortunate to have such a deep offensive line,” Shaba said. “We’re all very competitive so it’s
a lot of fun to play together.”
On the other side of the ball, the starting Laker backline comprised of seniors Autumn Jacobs, Kayla
Kimble and Tayler Ward, junior Juane Odendaal and freshman Erika Bradfield, who scored her first goal
as a Laker off an arching cross from fellow freshman Kendra Stauffler, held Ashland without a shot in
the opening half and yielded only three shots in the game.
“The defense is our oldest line, starting three seniors and a junior, and they’ve had a lot of time to
come together as a group,” senior tri-captain Sam Decker said. “Last year that line was on their way,
but now they’re really playing great.”
This season, GVSU has allowed only 13 shots-on-goal and 43 total shots while posting 42 shots-on-
goal and 87 total shots, netting eight goals in the process. Through five games, senior keeper Abbey
Miller has only been asked to make 13-saves, and Friday, Miller made her one save opportunity in
“The key (to our defense) is working for each other,” Shaba said. “We work hard to defend as a team,
then advance up the field together, as well. I think we grow and learn more about each other with
every game we play and the adversity from a tough schedule lets us see each others strengths and lets
us play together accordingly.”
On Sunday, GVSU squared off against a physical Ohio Dominican team and was relatively stymied in
the first half. In the final 45-minutes, however, GVSU played with a sense of urgency distinctive of a
first place team and quickly took control of the contest.
For the second consecutive game, Shaba, who fired five of the Lakers nine shots in the game, netted
the game-winning goal. Persistently applying pressure throughout the day, Shaba broke the Ohio
Dominican backline in the 68 minute off a cross from sophomore Katie Bounds, allowing the Lakers to
return home with two more victories tallied and a 2-0-0 record in GLIAC action.
“Today we played 18 to 19 players and in the last 20-minutes, Ohio Dominican got very, very tired,”
Dilanni said. “Some of the best teams that we’ve had in the last four, five, six years are the ones that
are extremely deep and as long as our kids continue to buy into the team aspect, I think the sky’s the
limit for us.”
With two more away conference games upcoming, beginning with rival Saginaw Valley State on Sept.
27 at 2:00 p.m., GVSU will have played six of their first seven games on the road. In a much-improved
GLIAC conference, the journey towars returning to an NCAA title game won’t be smoothly paved.
“Playing these tight games are making us better,” Dilanni said. “They’re going to make us better as a
team and as individuals now and because we’re going to have to fight and scrap and stay in the game
longer, they’re going to also make us better in the long run. We’ve had a tough start to the season, as
far as schedule goes, and to be able to start GLIAC play with two wins is great for us.”