Work in progress
GVSU soccer still fitting together an offense
Grand Valley State University soccer (6-0-1) started from scratch offensively this season and has found constructing a new frontline akin to sitting down with a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle; a
methodical, trial-and-error, sometimes hair-pulling process that mandates patience if the final
picture is to be realized.
More crucial than patience or vision or hair, however, is having all of the right pieces.
“We have a lot of pieces, a lot of forwards and so we all just switch in and out,” freshman forward
Kendra Stauffer said. “We have seven up there, so we just all try to beat each other out at practice.
Every week, the lineup changes.”
Through seven games, GVSU has netted 13 goals on 10 assists and 132 shots, nine of which, as well
as 6 assists and 76 shots, have been contributed by four players: juniors Jenny Shaba and Charlie
Socia and freshmen Marti Corby and Stauffer.
All of the best plans have an element of spontaneity—so do the best offenses. Enter Stauffer.
One of the youngest and shortest girls on the Laker roster, Stauffer leads GVSU in points (10) and
assists (4) and is tied for the lead in goals (3), despite only taking 11 shots. The piece that nearly
wasn’t, Stauffer was the last recruit inked in a recruiting class that has already made its presence
known and has provided an unanticipated offensive boost.
“Kenny’s deceptively fast. Everyone looks at her —she’s 5 feet 5 inches, slight, unassuming, but she’s
very quick,” head coach David Dilanni said. “She’s that way with and without the ball, and that’s what
makes her special. She’s probably one of the smarter soccer players we have in terms of
understanding the game, seeing other girls’ runs, and she’s very good with distribution; when the ball
finds her feet, she rarely turns it over.”
Quantity is also requisite to any successful offense, and fellow incomer to the team Corby, one of the
tallest student-athletes on the Laker roster at 5 feet 8 inches, leads the Lakers with 29 shots.
“Marti rarely hits a bad shot,” Dilanni said. “She can strike a ball with power, pace and distance and
has been very close to her first goal, whether it’s been a big save, a crossbar, a post, just being wide. I
think there are times where maybe Marti should pass the ball versus shooting the ball, and part of that
might be frustration in trying to get that first goal, but I’m not going to tell her not to shoot and
neither will her teammates. They know what happens when she hits the ball on frame with pace.”
Equally requisite is quality, and midfielder Socia, a converted high school forward, is GVSU’s most
efficient scorer with three goals on seven shots (.429).
“I try to bring the offensive rush,” Socia said. “I really like to get in the box, bring pressure and find
It’s a style that’s ruthlessly effective, but a game with plenty of potential for growth.
“Charlie is a very workman-like, industrial, blue-collar player,” Dilanni said. “She was a very good
forward before we had her and moved her back to mid and is very good in the box. When she actually
shoots, most of the time she scores. We’ve been on Charlie for a couple years now that she needs
more shots. She needs to find a way to create her own opportunities and when she has those
opportunities, she can’t pass them up.”
Shaba, who leads the Lakers with three game-winning goals and is second on the team with 28 shots,
“Jenny’s the elder spokesman of our team as a junior who I think is still trying to fight to get
consistent play, but she’s been doing what she needed to do,” Dilanni said. “She’s leading from the
forefront, being active and the last three or four games, got on the end of some goals where if she
doesn’t score, we don’t win those games. Even though she’s second on the team in shot attempts,
she’s another one that probably doesn’t shoot enough.”
An unfinished project, the edges of the puzzle began to take shape Sunday in a five-goal outburst
against GLIAC foe Northwood University. With freshman forwards Michelle Foote and Erika Bradfield
beginning to contribute and more dynamic play stemming from the forwards and midfielders, the
offense is starting to come together for the defensively-orientated Lakers.
The final picture remains to be seen.
“We had 20 shots on Friday, 25 on Sunday, and I think honestly, it’s not enough shots right now with
this group,” Dilanni said. “In the same token, I think we’re farther along than I thought we’d be, not
because of the five goals against Northwood, but because of our willingness to improve. This group’s
very coachable, and their learning curve is very high, and I think you’re going to see us turn in some
higher numbers as the season progresses.”