GVSU rolls Quincy, TSU to begin Hosler era
Reigning champs coast in 4-0, 3-0 home wins
Sara Stevens- GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Just 30 seconds into the 2014 season, freshman Gabriella Mencotti found herself on a breakaway with nothing but a goaltender standing in her way.
Mencotti’s shot missed the left goalpost by a matter of inches, but little did it matter. Just a half-minute into the game, the No. 1 Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team was in control.
Not much would change over the next 90 minutes. Nor the 90 after that on Sunday. The Lakers kicked off their title defense with a pair of wins at the 2014 Ramada Plaza Invitational in Allendale, triumphing over No. 13 Quincy University 4-0 and Truman State 3-0.
Game one was, for the first 45 minutes, the Kendra Stauffer show. The sophomore forward notched two goals in the first half to give the Lakers a 2-0 lead at the break. The first came courtesy of a seeking cross from senior defender Juane Odendaal. Stauffer corralled it on the right side of the box before looping a shot into the top left corner with 14 minutes left in the half. Soon after, Stauffer took a breakaway feed from Mencotti and calmly tucked it away for her second.
GVSU’s domination didn’t falter in the second half. A commanding back line facilitated the ball all over the field to Laker forwards while rarely allowing a would-be Hawk scorer behind them. GVSU added two more goals – the first on a penalty kick from Mencotti and the second off a header from freshman Sara Stevens.
“The freshmen have performed really well through their first few matches this weekend,” said GVSU coach Jeff Hosler. “A lot of it has to do with the seniors and their guidance and support with those young players. Without that, the transition is really difficult but they’ve been great both on and off the field.”
The second game of the weekend was much of the same. Five minutes into the game, sophomore Gabbie Guibord snuck a daisy-cutter into the left corner while spinning to the ground on the follow-through. The Lakers spent the next 30 minutes attacking to no avail, until senior Charlie Socia sent a beautiful free kick home from 20 yards to give GVSU a 2-0 lead.
The Laker defense was moderately more pressured in the second half, but Truman State failed to break through and find twine. GVSU could, however, and did. Sophomore Marti Corby sent a screaming corner kick into the center of the box where it met with Alyssa Wesley’s knee and rocketed into the back of the net. Wesley’s tally would put a cap on the scoring for the day as the Lakers topped the Bulldogs 3-0.
“We came out well on Friday, and combined with today it was a good showing for our first weekend,” Socia said. “We just need to work on finishing the final ball and getting the ball through the back line.”
With the two victories, the Lakers extended their win streak to 26 games. The last time GVSU failed to leave with a W was the 2013 season opener – a tie – against then-No. 5 Armstrong University.
Senior Andrea Strauss was the ultimate winner of GVSU’s goaltending battle and proved herself deserving with back-to-back shutouts. Strauss didn’t have much time to prepare, however, as she was informed of her starting role just minutes before game-time on Friday night.
Regardless, Strauss focused and executed, making all six saves she saw over the weekend.
“I felt confident,” Strauss said. “It was my first career start so I had a few butterflies, but once I settled down and got into a routine I felt really good. My teammates did really well on the back line and moved the ball really well.”
GVSU, which outshot its opposition 51-11 in the two contests, had the look of a team ready to make another deep run in 2014. Every position player saw the field in both contests as the Lakers showcased depth and talent at nearly every spot.