Fast and flurious: GVSU tops Bellarmine, 2-0
No. 11 Lakers advance to play No. 3 UW-P in Wisconsin
The scene was more befitting of ice skates than soccer cleats in Allendale on Sunday afternoon for the Midwest Regional Semifinal match in the NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Tournament.
Grand Valley State (19-2-1, 10-1-1 GLIAC) squared off against Bellarmine (14-4-3, 11-1-3 GLVC) at home on a field where the white heavily outweighed the green. The Lakers showed steely resolve against the elements, defeating the visitors from Kentucky 2-0.
“I thought it was a great performance,” said GVSU coach Jeff Hosler. “We did a good job making plays throughout and very easily could have been affected by the conditions and the environment... I’m pleased.”
Only the lines were clear of snow, and only GVSU’s Jenny Shaba wore short sleeves. The two teams got off to a fairly even start, but never were the Lakers truly in trouble.
Freshman Gabriella Mencotti – who has been on fire all season – saw her flame shoot even higher in the frigid elements on Sunday. Late in the first frame, Mencotti took a cross from senior defender Kaely Schlosser. Mencotti controlled the ball and knocked a shot past Knight goalkeeper Hannah Poteet.
“Today I knew it was a big game so at first I was nervous, but I got excited from the weather because I’ve never played in weather like this,” Mencotti said. “I was still really excited and ready to play.”
The second goal – Mencotti’s team-leading 15th of the season – came after the forward found herself in the right place at the right time. A Katie Klunder shot was denied and deflected to Mencotti, who put it home to give GVSU a 2-0 lead early in the second half.
Bellarmine’s attempts to attack in GVSU’s half were fruitless. The Knights rarely threatened in the second stanza, and GVSU’s controlling style of play proved to be the best kind of defense once again.
The Lakers were able to get a taste of Sunday’s weather over a pair of practices earlier in the week, but Sunday’s conditions turned Allendale into a tundra.
Not that it was a problem for the West Michigan-based squad.
“Nothing really had to be switched up,” said senior midfielder Charlie Socia. “We just had to be sure we were making crisp passes and putting strong pace on our balls."
The Lakers outshot the Knights 18-8, including a 7-4 advantage in shots on net. Andrea Strauss posted a four-save shutout for the Lakers, while Poteet made five saves for Bellarmine.
GVSU advances to the Midwest Regional Championship on Friday, where it will face No. 1 Wisconsin-Parkside (18-0-3, 12-0-3 GLVC) in Kenosha, Wis. UW-Parkside beat No. 5 Saginaw Valley State 2-0 in the other semifinal match on Sunday. The Lakers are ranked No. 11 in Division II, while UW-P is No. 3.
Bellarmine played to a 1-1 draw against Wisconsin-Parkside in October.
With Sunday’s win, the Lakers improved to 29-8-5 in NCAA Tournament matches all-time, including a sparkling 14-2-2 home record.
GVSU has lost just one game in November over the last nine seasons.