Column: One game won't define legacy of 2016 GVSU soccer senior class
For the first time in four years, the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team played in the NCAA National Championship and did not emerge victorious. The Lakers fell to Western Washington 3-2 in a heartbreaking game in the finals.
For the program’s five four-year seniors, it was the first time they lost a postseason game in their careers. With the loss, the senior class fell a game short of matching the 1997 class of Franklin Pierce that won four straight national championships.
After the game, a common sentiment among players and coach Jeff Hosler was that the loss to Western Washington does not define the legacy of the senior class. Senior and leader of the team Marti Corby said, “For our class, one game does not define our career.”
The question now is, how much will the loss to Western Washington affect the senior class’s legacy? For a class that had dominated the Division II level for three-plus years, to lose the final game of their career will undoubtedly shape their legacy, but it will not define it.
Following the championship game, Hosler better explained the legacy that the senior class will leave on the program and ultimately the likes of Division II women’s soccer.
“As I told the team, this isn’t their legacy,” Hosler said. “Their legacy is something that is going to be felt for many years moving forward. To play in four national championship games, to win three of them, is a remarkable feat and no one can ever take that away from them.”
Winning three out of four championships is certainly not a bad legacy to have. From 1991-94, the NFL’s Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowl games, and the team has still never won a championship. Now that is an unfortunate legacy.
While the seniors were unable to make it four-for-four, they are still the only class, other than Franklin Pierce, to ever win three championships in a row and make it to four straight finals matchups. They finished their careers with a 92-5-5 record, a .928 winning percentage.
In the short term, the fact that the Lakers lost in the championship game will be a tough pill to swallow. The questions of ‘what if’ and ‘what could have been’ will unfortunately always loom over the senior class, but that same question could be asked in different ways.
What if the senior class never came to GVSU? Where would the program be without them?
The fact is that when the senior class entered the program in 2013, they grabbed the torch from GVSU greats like Kayla Addison and Ashley Botts as they left the program and continued the winning tradition. They elevated the program to new heights—heights no one knew were possible, while at the same time molding the future players of the program to carry on the success.
So before looking at what they didn’t achieve, take a look at what all the senior class achieved in four years. That is where their legacy lies.