Pair of Lakers head to fourth Final Four
Klunder, Bounds have been members of every GV semifinal team
The Grand Valley State women’s soccer team is two wins away from a third straight national championship. The difficulty of that feat goes without saying.
This season marks the fourth consecutive national semifinal the Lakers have been to. Just two members of the team have been on the roster for each trip.
Seniors Katie Klunder and Katie Bounds both have experienced moments of joy and victory while at GVSU. They hope one more year is in the making for those special times.
“It would definitely mean a lot to us,” Bounds said. “Those are memories that you can’t get rid of even if you wanted to.”
In their freshman year in 2012, Bounds and Klunder headed to Evans Park, Georgia as the Lakers fell to UC - San Diego in the NCAA semifinals. The next year, GVSU returned to Georgia, this time completing the trip with a national championship in a 2-0 win over West Florida.
In 2014, it was time for a repeat. The Lakers headed to Louisville and trumped Rollins 4-0 to secure the second national championship of Klunder and Bounds' careers.
The experience has been up-and-down according to the two seniors leaders. As the only two seniors from their own graduating class, the bond between the two is unbreakable.
The two teammates, however, seem to have contrasting personalities. Bounds is an energetic fireball who lights up the team with her words and actions. Klunder is described as a calm leader who lets her playing do the talking. Both, however, share one important quality. They're leaders.
“I’m really happy for our seniors,” said GVSU head coach Jeff Hosler. “One of the first things last year’s senior class told me was you don’t want to be the class who doesn’t make it.”
With the pressure of former Lakers watching closely, GVSU knew this season had to be a special one. After opening the season with a loss, the Lakers have rattled off 22 straight victories.
The numbers and statistics are proof of the team’s success, but the ability to bring the team together as a polished product on the field after losing five seniors a year ago to graduation is a testament to Bounds, Klunder and the other two seniors -- Katy Woolley and Maddison Reynolds.
“Every experience is very different,” Klunder said. “But every experience is amazing.”
The experience for Laker student-athletes is often a time of elation. Bounds described the experience with her own metaphor.
“It’s like climbing a rocky mountain,” she said. “You hit those bumps. You trip, you fall and you get back up.”
The senior class will need to lead a young team. The Lakers bring nine freshmen to Pensacola, Florida for the Final Four, including multiple players from that list who receive heavy doses of playing time for this team.
According to Klunder, leadership steps will be taken by actions as usual.
“Every training is as hard as we can,” she said. “Other teams are going to be working hard too, so we’ve got to set the tempo and bring the energy.”
The Lakers will face Western Washington on Thursday for the right to compete in the national championship game on Saturday. If they make it past the Vikings, GVSU will face either Bridgeport or Columbus State.
“(Western Washington is) good on both sides of the ball,” Hosler said. “They have some dangerous attackers. Without a doubt, this is one of the taller teams we have faced."