GVSU soccer headed back to Final Four
Lakers edge Bellarmine, Central Missouri to return to NCAA semifinals
GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Kendra Stauffer (5) fends off a quincy attacker. Grand Valley squares off against Quincy in the second round of the women's soccer NCAA tournament Nov. 15 in Allendale. The Lakers take the victory with a final score of 6-0.
Survival of the fittest. Survive and advance. In Tupac's words, "All I'm trying to do is survive and make good."
The Grand Valley State women's soccer team knows a little bit more about survival after last weekend.
In the NCAA Division II tournament, the Lakers survived, beating Bellarmine 2-1 on Friday and edging Central Missouri 1-1 (2-1 penalty kicks) on Sunday to advance to the NCAA semifinals.
“We played two really good teams,” said GVSU head coach Jeff Hosler. “Once you make the quarterfinals, the final 16 teams are all really good. You're playing championship-level teams.”
The No. 1 Lakers opened with No. 14 Bellarmine (17-3-2) on Friday. Junior Marti Corby opened the scoring for GVSU, notching a 26th-minute goal high into the left corner of the goal to send the Lakers ahead 1-0.
Nearly 50 minutes passed before the Lakers struck again. Forward Jayma Martin found a loose ball in the Bellarmine box and drove it home for much-needed insurance. Bellarmine scored on a free kick a few minutes later, but it was too little, too late as the Lakers advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals.
The Lakers (21-1-1) were in an unfamiliar position on Sunday against Central Missouri. After a half of play, GVSU trailed the Jennies 1-0. Central Missouri outshot the Lakers 8-3 in the first half, flipping the script on a statistical category the Lakers usually do not trail in.
“At halftime, we were disappointed in being down a goal,” Hosler said. “I don’t think we played as hard as we are capable of.”
The second half was a time for heroes to shine. It all started with an equalizing goal from Jayma Martin in the 46th minute, her second goal on the weekend.
“I knew we had to score,” Martin said. “As soon as I saw Gabby (Mencotti) take a shot I knew I had to get in the box. I got there and finished it off the post.”
After Martin’s second goal against the Jennies, the Lakers were determined to add another goal to the scoring column and end the match. However, Central Missouri did not back down, and the match was sent to overtime.
The Division II college soccer overtime rules state two 10-minute sudden victory periods are played. Whoever scores first in the allotted time wins the match.
With a trip to the national semifinals on the line, neither team gave an inch. The overtime period was another stalemate. The match would be decided in a penalty shootout.
Both teams sent out at least five different players to try to score penalty shots. Hosler’s choice for players was intriguing, especially considering Corby, the team's leading goal-scorer, was not chosen.
GVSU went with Tracey McCoy, Erika Bradfield, Mencotti, Kendra Stauffer and Katy Woolley.
“Those are the kids we felt would be the most prepared,” Hosler said. “We did well enough to move on.”
However, the hero of the penalty shootout duel was GVSU freshman goalkeeper Emily Maresh. Maresh responded to the moment and made three straight saves to give the Lakers the advantage in the shootout.
“I really just tried to focus on the player shooting,” Maresh said. “Watching their body to see which way they were going. I knew my team was there to support me whether I saved it or not.”
Behind the solid effort from Maresh, the Lakers received penalty goals from McCoy, Mencotti and the clincher from Woolley, a senior defender.
GVSU outscored Central Missouri 3-2 in penalty kicks to advance to the national semifinals in Pensacola, Florida.
The Lakers will play another No. 1 seed in Western Washington on Dec. 3.