GVSU lax pleased with start to season
Lakers, 2-3, have played grueling early schedule
GVL/Kevin Sielaff Erika Neuman
The Grand Valley State lacrosse team has tasted its fair share of success over the brief history of the program. The Lakers' hunger, however, has developed into something that can only be sated by an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The program has yet to ever lose a single game in conference play, but to the selection committee, that has not been enough. To prove to the country that they are ready to take the leap into the class of elites, the Lakers scheduled a slew of tests as a part of their non-conference schedule, which featured the Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5 and 19-ranked teams in the country – and every match was on the road.
Expectations were high for the Lakers as they prepared for the gauntlet, and, though they enter conference play with a 2-3 record (coincidentally the same record they held the past three seasons at this time), they are pleased with their performance thus far.
“I don’t think when you’ve beaten the No. 5 and 19 (teams) in the country and are competitive with 2 and 3 you can call it disappointing," said GVSU head coach Alicia Groveston. "We’ve never beaten such good teams and the games were much better compared to last year, so we have to call it a success."
Unsure of where they stand in the eyes on the bracket committee, the No. 9 Lakers plan to charge into their GLIAC contests with a full head of steam and settle for nothing less than dominance, though they acknowledge the significant margin they once held over the rest of the league has since diminished.
“Tiffin is always a tough one for us and Findlay is another one where they get up to play us," Groveston said. "The gap is closing between the teams who have finished 2 through 5 and it’s really anybody’s year when it comes to those spots. Without having played anybody yet, we can know that they’ll all be tough. You have to show up."
The Lakers will play six different teams twice, once at home and once on the road, over the course of the GLIAC season, and they know the target is on their heads. This doesn’t faze them, though, as they are looking at it as an opportunity get better than they feel they are.
“I think we are looking at it as an opportunity to improve our play and make it back to the GLIAC tournament. I think that the GLIAC season will push us mentally as well as make us better,” said junior Erika Neumen, the Lakers' leading scorer.
In addition, Neumen believes that GVSU's hard work during the non-conference bouts has put it in a strong position to compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, as long as the Lakers take care of business in conference play.
Goaltender Sarah Zwilsky had similar sentiments, saying that though the Lakers did not necessarily play as well they wanted to, they are only getting better.
“I think there’s still more we can reach, but we’re still pushing each other to the top," she said.
GVSU's conference season commences on March 24 when the McKendree Bearcats roll into Allendale.