Knorr: Why GVSU wins the GLIAC tourney
GVSU closed out the regular season 15-2-1 under first-year coach Jeff Hosler.
With Saturday’s win, the No. 10 Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team clinched a share of its 10th consecutive GLIAC championship. The other share went to Ohio Dominican University.
The teams have matching 10-1-1 records in conference play, but ODU owns the tiebreaker after besting GVSU in Allendale 1-0 on Oct. 17.
As a result, ODU snagged the top seed in the upcoming GLIAC Tournament. GVSU had to settle for the second seed.
The season has been a successful one for the Lakers; make no doubts. A 15-2-1 overall record, a consistent top-25 ranking and a GLIAC championship speak for themselves, but a two seed in the conference tournament is certainly a shortcoming for the reigning national champs.
The Lakers host Ferris State University on Tuesday night to open the tournament. GVSU beat FSU twice this season – 3-2 in Big Rapids and 7-2 at home. The seventh-seeded Bulldogs shouldn’t pose a problem to GVSU, although rivalries and tournaments often induce unforeseen chaos.
As the two seed, GVSU will maintain home field advantage until it plays a higher-seeded team. ODU is the only higher-seeded team, and if the two meet, it will be in the finals. If ODU gets upset in one of the first two rounds, GVSU will hold home field advantage throughout the tournament.
If the Lakers make it past FSU, they would host a semifinal game against the winner of the Walsh/Michigan Tech matchup. Smart money would say MTU, the three seed, would win this game.
A GVSU/MTU matchup would be intriguing for a number of reasons. The two squads squared off last weekend in the Upper Peninsula and played to a 0-0 draw. The game itself was a pinpoint microcosm of GVSU’s season.
To start with the good, GVSU’s defense has been a lockdown unit all year. The Lakers have shut out four consecutive opponents and have allowed just nine goals this season. Seniors Juane Odendaal and Kaely Schlosser lead a back line that has rarely bent – let alone broken – this season.
Goaltender Andrea Strauss has been a revelation as well, complementing her outstanding defense and making the saves she has needed to make when called upon.
GVSU has the talent to win this tournament, and should still be considered the favorite despite its seed. The offense is going to either make or break GVSU for the rest of the season – GLIAC tournament and beyond.
In more than one instance this season, the offense has gone dormant.
The unit has playmakers left, right and center. Freshman Gabriella Mencotti has had an outstanding season, and the talent from players like Jenny Shaba, Marti Corby and Kendra Stauffer is readily apparent. The Lakers often post 30 or more shots in a single game, only to see the scoreboard reflect two or three goals.
Putting together and finishing a play has been a point of concern for the offense during the second half of the season. Head coach Jeff Hosler says that the offense “settles too often.”
At times, it seems as though no one is willing to take control. It’s as if LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were simply depending on the talent of the others to score – that the name GVSU is enough to win.
This team is incredibly talented. In the loss to ODU, GVSU controlled the entire game, and the Panthers slunk into packing the box after scoring their goal, making it nigh impossible for the Lakers to get a clean look at the net.
GVSU is the best team in the GLIAC, bar none. If seeds hold, GVSU will take on ODU in a rematch in Ohio. I expect the Lakers to dig deep and finally put it all together, winning the GLIAC tournament and priming for another NCAA Tournament run.