GVSU women's club lacrosse claims regional title, advances to national championship
Lakers win first Women's Collegiate Lacrosse League trophy in team history
GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Katie Tomlinson (26) moves the ball up field. The Lakers defeat the Bearcats of McKendree University with a final score of 23-11 Friday, March 25, 2016 in Allendale.
Less than 10 minutes away from history, and with the score tied at nine, the Grand Valley State women’s club lacrosse team was exhausted after a long tournament. But they couldn’t slow down, especially when they were this close to winning it all.
GVSU won its first Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League trophy in team history Saturday, April 15. After beating the University of Chicago 11-8 and taking care of rival Oakland 12-6, they faced off against Bethel College in the final.
GVSU took the lead early on but allowed Bethel to slowly find its way back in the game. Head coach Kara Hogan decided to make a call.
“It came down to a timeout, having captains speak up and laying down the fact that this game would be the one to put us in the books,” Hogan said.
The timeout paid off, as GVSU scored three goals to seal the game and win their first regional championship by a score of 12-9.
“I couldn’t help but smile the whole time because I knew we earned our spot in Salt Lake City,” said sophomore Kelsey Hoemke.
With this win, the Lakers qualified for the 2017 Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (WCLA) Division II National Championship Tournament.
“It came down to asking them how bad they wanted it,” Hogan said. “They came out to play and did a great job closing out a victory and regional title for the first time in the history of our team.”
Hoemke believes that if anyone deserved to be in this tournament, it was her Laker squad.
“Making history proves how much chemistry we have with each other,” Hoemke said.
Hogan thinks that chemistry is what has gotten the team this far.
“The overall bond of our team as one is unlike anything I have ever seen,” Hogan said. “We are all there for one another, and that is the best way to find success in any team sport.”
Besides chemistry, the Lakers will be able to rely on sophomore goalie Alicia Zeller, who came up with three crucial saves in the last minutes of the game against Bethel. If the defense and Zeller show the same tenacity as they did all season, Hogan believes in her team’s chances to surprise everyone in Utah.
“None of the teams going to nationals are going to know us,” she said. “So I think we’re going to shock everyone by our skills when we get there.”
As happy as the team is, Hogan knows there is some work to be done in terms of confidence if they want to make it all the way to the championship game.
“Our team has always lacked confidence even when the skill and heart is there,” she said. “If the girls can show up and play with confidence, then there is nothing that can stop us.”
GVSU will compete for the national title in Salt Lake City, Utah, from Thursday, May 11 through Saturday, May 13. Hoemke shared her excitement to go on a trip with her teammates, but she knows this is not a vacation.
“We plan to prove that GV deserves to be the best team in the nation," she said.