Streaking Grand Valley soccer team makes history look easy
Some say it’s better to be lucky than good, although the Grand Valley State University soccer team hasn’t required much luck this season to be historically successful.
Host GVSU (12-0-1, 9-0-0 GLIAC) beat Tiffin University (3-9-1, 2-5-1 GLIAC) 13-0 on Sunday in match No. 13 of the season. The 13 goals scored by the Lakers set a school record under head coach Dave Dilanni and help to extend the nations second-longest shutout streak in Division II history to 13 games.
The No.1 Lakers have not lost at home in its last 58 matches, which is also the second-longest streak in Division II history.
“I think being home for a lot of these games has really helped us out and our kids have enjoyed being back, but I think we’re excited to get back on the road, to be honest with you,” Dilanni said. “We have our big U.P. trip coming up with some really big games and it’s been nice to see our kids do well, not only as a team, but individually, we’re really coming along and playing well.”
Some might say that GVSU has found a lucky number in 13 or that the Lakers would be well served by celebrating victory tonight by tossing a pinch of salt over their shoulders, especially with Halloween just around the corner.
The Lakers, however, have found balance to be an apt substitute for superstition. Nine different Lakers scored a goal and none played more than 61 minutes.
“What’s unique about this team is our depth,” Dilanni said. “Week-to-week, our difference makers are always going to be different.”
Freshman forward Erika Bradfield placed a ball into the left corner of Tiffin’s crease off an assist from junior forward Jenny Shaba, who then assisted freshman forward Kendra Stauffer for goal No. 2 in the eight minute, to start the scoring for the Lakers.
Shaba then recorded two goals of her own in the minute 11 and minute 21, the second of which was assisted by a long pass from sophomore midfielder Katie Klunder.
Shaba was one of four Lakers with two goals and one of three Lakers with two assists Sunday and did her damage in 50 minutes of play. Shaba leads the Lakers on the season with 22 points.
“I think soccer’s a game of momentum and we’ve been riding that wave the last few games,” Shaba said. “We come out in the beginning of every game giving 100 percent, which helps things fall into place for us and give us momentum. Each game we play, things seem to fall into place quicker and quicker from the first whistle.”
In a 7-0 route against over the University of Findlay on Friday (6-6-2, 2-4-2), GVSU outshot their opponent 28-5 and only allowed one shot in the second half.
Findlay pressured GVSU’s heralded backline early, but they were quickly stifled. In minute 10, Stauffer broke the scoreless tie off an assist from Shaba, who then notched a goal of her own 25 seconds later.
“Today and Friday were both great examples of a team win,” Dilanni said. “We had a lot of people play, we had a lot of people play well and in a way, this weekend was a of a celebrations of firsts. We had a couple people get their first goal, we had defenders who were in the attack and we enjoyed ourselves today.”
Another first came Sunday when senior goalkeeper Abbey Miller set a GVSU record with 1,173.57 consecutive minutes played without surrendering a goal. It’s the third longest streak in Division II history.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Miller said. “It’s awesome to see the team improve every week in practice and it’s even better when all of the hard work results in rewards like this.”
With a game scheduled against Michigan Tech University (9-3-1, 6-1-1 GLIAC), who shared the GLIAC title with GVSU last fall, Friday at 7 p.m. and another match set for Sunday with Northern Michigan University (4-8-1, 4-3-1) at 1 p.m., the Lakers will look to continue to make their own luck and pursuit history on the pitch with four games remaining in the regular season.
“This weekend’s success was all a byproduct of how we train, but ultimately, we’re only as good as the last time we’ve stepped on the field,” Dilanni said. “This won’t matter when we’re practicing on Tuesday and if we decide we don’t want to train hard or learn and continue to get better, it won’t matter going forward, either. There’s a big difference between scoring these goals now and scoring against good teams in crucial moments and there’s always room to grow.”