GVSU looks to grab third straight national title
Lakers led by defending NSCAA Player of the Year Marti Corby
GVL / Emily Frye Grand Valley's senior women's soccer players from left to right, Maddison Reynolds, Katy Woolley, Katie Klunder, and Katie Bounds. The women's soccer team will begin their regular season on September 4th against Quincy University.
Winning a single national championship is a tough feat to accomplish. Winning back-to-back national championships is even harder.
Winning three in a row? About as a tough as it gets.
The Grand Valley State women’s soccer team will try to do just that in 2015 as the program goes for its third consecutive national championship. While some may think the pressure of making another title run would be insurmountable for the Laker players, head coach Jeff Hosler doesn’t see it that way.
“It does not weigh on our players at all,” Hosler said. “We have the experience from winning two straight so we know how it feels to try and repeat.”
The Lakers enter the 2015 campaign ranked No.1 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Preseason Rankings.
Despite losing a number of key seniors from last year’s championship squad, GVSU returns an abundance of talent and leadership from the 2014 campaign.
It all starts with the senior class on this year’s squad. The “core four” seniors are defender Katy Woolley, forwards Maddison Reynolds and Katie Bounds, and midfielder Katie Klunder. If the Lakers hope to return to the promised land, their run will begin on the shoulders of these four.
“The upperclassmen this year expect to lead by example which is very important,” Woolley said. “This is a similar role that I have played in the past, although being a senior is a change of perspective.”
Another luxury is bringing back junior midfielder Marti Corby. Corby is the reigning NSCAA Player of the Year, thanks largely to 12 goals and 13 assists last season. She provides a strong, calming presence on the field that will help the Lakers' efforts to repeat yet again.
The Lakers also return last season's top goal scorer in sophomore Gabriella Mencotti. As a true freshman in 2014, Mencotti led all Division II freshmen in points (43) and became just the second freshman in GVSU history to earn Daktronics, Inc. All-American honors.
GVSU will have to fill holes left by the departure of key seniors Juane Odendaal (defender), Jenny Shaba (forward) and Andrea Strauss (goalkeeper), among others.
The challenge for the two-time defending national champions will be integrating the youth on the roster. This year’s roster shows 20 freshmen and sophomores.
“Over the last few weeks, we as a team have had a lot of team bonding,” Reynolds said. “From zip-lining, to a day on the lake, to team dinner, we have already had many opportunities to get to know each other on and off the field.”
The Lakers know that being two-time defending national champions has both perks and disadvantages. The perks include recruiting success, as well as recognition as a top program, which can also be a disadvantage.
“Our record is 0-0 like everybody else,” Hosler said. “Everyone else is feeling good about their team and we know we are going to get their best shot.”
In the GLIAC preseason rankings, the Lakers are atop the polls, but according to Hosler, the team still has a lot of work to do.
The team recently had an intra-squad scrimmage, trying to find which combinations worked on the field and which group of players had chemistry on the field.
“Our game management and execution definitely needs to be better,” Hosler said after the scrimmage. “At the same time though a lot of those errors are expected when you are only 10 days into a season.”
The Lakers play their first game at Quincy College on Sept. 4.