Lakers knock off ranked team for first time
Challenging is one way to describe the young season for Grand Valley State’s women’s lacrosse team.
Facing four top-20 teams for the first six games, GVSU’s schedule isn’t easy by any means. But Monday’s contest between the Lakers and the No. 18 Crimson Hawks of Indiana University of Pennsylvania can be summed up in one word for the Lakers.
After struggling to scale the wall that quality opponents had posed for so long, GVSU tallied its first ranked win in program history, 14-12. The Lakers had been 0-8 against ranked opponents.
This season, a setback for the Lakers had been confidence against such teams. They were 0-3 against ranked foes, and weren't functioning as one cohesive unit. So when coach Alicia Groveston called a timeout when the score reached 5-2 in favor of IUP, she said the game was in her player's hands.
“We haven’t played to our potential yet,” Groveston said. “Just score one goal at a time."
The team did just that shortly thereafter.
Although IUP increased the lead to 7-2, GVSU shored up some openings defensively and was able to hold off the Crimson Hawks for most of the game. Upon stalling out the Crimson Hawk offense for the better part of the second half, sophomore Carolyn Kraus ripped twine for the second time to tie things up at 12 apiece before snipes from sophomores Ryan Skomial and Erika Neumen sealed the deal late.
“Erika has been a catalyst for the offense the entire season,” Groveston said of Neumen. “She has this uncanny ability to get inside and create opportunities to score."
Neumen notched four goals and two assists while Skomial tallied three goals and two assists. On Monday, Neumen was awarded the first GLIAC Women’s Lacrosse Offensive Player of the Week for the 2015 campaign after ripping 16 shots past goalies in the past month.
“We have to keep moving forward and get better,” Neumen said. “We have to have confidence to play at that level every game no matter who we’re against or where we play."
Cold temperatures and strong opponents had been obstacles standing in the way of the team’s potential. For Skomial, the colder weather has taken some getting used to, but it has also evoked a greater appreciation for strong fundamental skills.
“We worked a lot on the basics skills in the cold, the core of lacrosse,” Skomial said. “In the cold you just want to score goals and get in and get out of there."
The team made light work of IUP’s defense by utilizing a more relaxed approach offensively. Shuffling through cutters, the Lakers were able to pick apart IUP and find open shots.
With a spring in their step and confidence in their abilities, the Lakers will look to take on Urbana on March 20 in Ohio. Until then, the Lakers can rest assured knowing they have what it takes to compete against the best as long as they play as a team and show confidence in each other.