GVSU misses out on fourth straight national championship
The Lakers lost 3-2 to Western Washington
For the first time in four years, the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team did not emerge as national champions after the last game of the season. The Lakers fell one game, one goal short in a 3-2 loss to the Western Washington Vikings in the NCAA Division II National Championship Saturday, Dec. 3 at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Missouri.
Throughout the match, the Vikings pressured the Lakers harder than any team has this season. The Vikings controlled possession and out-shot the Lakers 16 to eight in the contest.
“(Western Washington’s) ability to high-press got us out of our rhythm,” said GVSU coach Jeff Hosler. “Frankly, they did a much better job building from the back than we did.”
Western Washington struck first in the 18th minute with a goal from the left foot of Caitlyn Jobanek. Jobanek scored from 20 yards out into the top-left portion of the goal.
Later in the half, forward Jayma Martin scored the equalizer for GVSU on a shot from a tough angle left of the goal. Gabriella Mencotti chipped a ball over a Viking defender and as the goalie came out to play the ball, Martin danced around her, gathered the ball and scored.
“I thought we responded well when they scored,” GVSU defender Clare Carlson said. “We just weren’t disciplined defensively right away, and it led to good goal-scoring opportunities for them that they capitalized on.”
Less than four minutes after Martin’s goal, Jobanek scored again for the Vikings in similar fashion to her first goal. After a throw-in from the right side, Jobanek turned toward the middle of the field and fired a shot from 25 yards out that found the top-left again.
Western Washington took a one-goal lead into the second half. It was the first time the Lakers trailed at halftime this season.
After a scoreless 25 minutes, Carlson scored the second equalizer of the game. Forward Kendra Stauffer passed the ball to a trailing Carlson who fired a one-time shot just outside the box. The ball sailed over the goalie and into the pylon.
For the second time, the Vikings answered back with a quick goal. This time, midfielder Emily Webster fired a free kick from 30 yards out off of the crossbar and into the back of the net.
“Every time a very good Grand Valley team got back into the game, we had an answer,” said Western Washington coach Travis Connell. “They were fantastic goals, and probably that’s what it takes to beat a team like this.”
The goal marked the first time that the Lakers have given up three goals in a match this season.
“Conceding three goals, you are not going to win very many games,” Hosler said. “We felt that they had good ball-strikers, and we had to close those spaces.”
For the last 15 minutes the GVSU offense pushed, but the Lakers were unable to score a third equalizer. When the clock struck zero, the Vikings held a one-goal lead, and for the first time in four years, GVSU did not finish a season with a win.
“Right now, it's sadness and devastation, but you have to look at the big picture,” Corby said. “For our class, one game does not define our career.”
With the loss, the 2016 senior class finished with four championship appearances, three championship wins and a 92-5-5 overall record.