No. 14 ranked GVSU soccer shuts down No. 10 Minnesota State-Mankato
Coming into the Grand Valley State women’s soccer matchup against No. 10 ranked Minnesota State-Mankato, GVSU head coach Jeff Hosler knew his team would have a lot on its plate.
“We’re playing a relentless opponent that plays hard every single second of the game for 90 minutes,” Hosler said after GVSU’s 2-0 victory over Cedarville Friday, Sept. 8. “If we’re not disciplined or on the ball, we’re going to be defending a lot of the game.”
Hosler was not wrong on his evaluation of the opposing Mavericks, but the Lakers managed to use a strong second half to gather a 2-0 victory at home Sunday, Sept. 10.
Right out of the gate, the Mavericks set the tone in terms of physicality with their relentless pursuit on defense to force Laker turnovers. Throughout the entire first half, the Lakers had difficulty maintaining possession to get their offense moving. GVSU only managed to get two shots on goal during the first half.
The Mavericks were able to fight their way through the Laker defense in the first half, but GVSU goalkeeper Jennifer Steinaway proved to be a "brick wall" in the net, finishing the first half with five saves and eight in total.
“Jen was fantastic today by making the saves she needed to make,” Hosler said. “She made good decisions and distribution of her punts. Simply put, she just had a really good game today, as complete of a game she’s had in awhile.”
The halftime breather seemed to put the wind back in the Laker’s sails, as the team came out dominating the time of possession on offense and finding open lanes to pass into. GVSU and Minnesota State-Mankato play the same formations, but the biggest second half difference for the Lakers was their domination and endurance.
But in the 73 minute, GVSU redshirt freshman Corey Sawall weaved her way through the Maverick defense off a pass by freshman Ava Cook to tack on the first goal of the day. The goal was Sawall’s first of the year and career.
“I was sprinting forward and saw that Ava got the ball, so I wanted to slip in and get behind the defender,” Sawall said. “The defender came, I touched the ball around her and then toe-ball shot it into the net. Whatever works, I guess.”
Ten minutes later, Cook went from the assister to the scorer after a deflection off a defender was in her open range, which led to a wide-open shot on net to make the score its 2-0 final.
“When Ava is playing tough, fast and wanting to get in front of the goal, she does exactly what she did today,” Hosler said. “She’s a player that can change the game in an instant, just like what she did today.”
Hosler believes there were two key attributes the Lakers used in order to capture the victory against the No. 10 ranked team in Division II.
“Being more disciplined and more patient in the second half was the reason we fixed our first-half issues,” Hosler said.
For the Lakers to get two wins against quality opponents after their rough 0-2 weekend in Kentucky provides promise for a young team moving forward.
“While I think these results helped defined our improvement, it’s also just a part of performance evaluation,” Hosler said. "The fact that our team grew up a lot in the second half showed that we can execute and still make plays.”
The Lakers will look to keep their dominant play going against Ashland University at home Friday, Sept. 15.