GVSU clinches berth in NCAA Final Four with two weekend wins
In the NCAA Midwest Region Championship and the NCAA Quarterfinals, the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team turned to two-time NSCAA National Player of the Year and the nation’s assist leader Marti Corby for an offensive boost, delivering both times.
The Lakers beat Truman State 2-0 Friday, Nov. 18 and Central Missouri 3-1 Sunday, Nov. 20 to advance to the NCAA Final Four. Corby scored a combined three goals in the two games over the weekend.
“She’s a very intelligent player, and she recognizes what other teams are giving her and she’s going to take it,” Hosler said. “If they’re going to give her space, she is going to finish the way that she has the last two games.”
In the first match, the Lakers produced early scoring chances but did not convert on any of them. Five minutes into the match, Corby fired a free kick off the crossbar and out of bounds, but later in the game she got a similar opportunity.
Late in the first half, Corby scored a deep goal from the left side of the goal and past the goalie near the far post.
“The dynamic movement from the forwards really allowed me to have space to dribble in to,” Corby said. “With the wet conditions, I knew if I just put it on frame hopefully it would skip in the back of the net.”
GVSU took a 1-0 lead into halftime, and in the second half, the Lakers again had trouble converting early chances. Corby again provided a lift for the offense.
With 18 minutes left in the game, Corby scored on a free kick just outside of the box. She chipped the ball over the wall of Truman State defenders and into the top-right portion of the goal.
The two goals were enough for the GVSU defense, which recorded its 19th shutout of the year.
In the quarterfinals, Corby again initiated the scoring for the Lakers. She fired a shot from the far-left side of the field and bent the ball inside of the far post to find the twine.
“(Corby made) something out of nothing to give us the lead early on,” Hosler said. “That goal was really big because we were a little hopeful in a lot of the balls we were playing and the shots we were taking to that point. To see the ball go in the back of net, I think everyone started to play with more confidence.”
Three minutes later, the Lakers added to their lead with a goal from Gabriella Mencotti. Forward Jayma Martin played a ball into the box where Mencotti buried the shot with her left foot.
“We did a really good job keeping the ball,” Martin said. “Being able to keep it through midfield and find us out wide, it made it a lot easier for me to take players on, get the ball up, get in and make runs.”
In the second half, the Jennies needed to grab the momentum quickly to start a comeback, but the Lakers kept the foot on the gas. Martin scored three minutes into the half after Corby played a chip pass into the box for her.
The Lakers scored three goals in the game, matching the total amount of goals that the Jennies gave up the entire season up until the quarterfinals. Central Missouri owned the nation’s lowest goals-against average in the nation before playing the Lakers.
“(Central Missouri) is a really good team, so for us to come out and be able to do that, put that many goals on them, it was really big for us,” Martin said.
Central Missouri found some offensive success midway through the second half with a goal from forward Hannah Pyle, but that would be the team’s only goal of the game.
With the two wins, the Lakers secured a date with Columbus State in the NCAA Final Four Thursday, Dec. 1. The GVSU defense will be put to the test against the nation’s highest-scoring offense. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Western Washington and Kutztown game on the other side of the bracket.