GVSU soccer faces Western Michigan in spring season scrimmage
After the graduation of seven core seniors from the roster, the Grand Valley State women’s soccer team now faces the challenge of finding a new identity before next season. In order to speed up that process, the Lakers hosted a scrimmage against the Division I Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday, March 24, at the GVSU soccer field.
These contests aren’t focused on the final score. Instead, they are primarily meant to give transfers and newcomers a chance to play together with the remaining members of last year’s team. At GVSU, newcomers who finally had a chance to wear Laker blue were freshman Chelsea Graves, Michigan State transfer Olivia Trombley, Vanderbilt University transfer Sydney O’Donnell, Xavier University transfer Catie Baron and Tokyo, Japan, native Riko Sagara.
On a cold, windy Saturday afternoon with temperatures in the low 30s, both teams showed some apparent rust in their first spring contest. Neither team could get their offense in the swing of things against strong winds and defensively strong squads. By the end of the contest, the Lakers walked away with a 1-1 tie against the Division I Broncos.
The Lakers weren’t the only team playing that day, either, as GVSU held a tournament for many local Michigan high school women’s soccer teams.
Turning heads on offense was newcomer Sagara, who recently transferred from Martin Methodist College. During here time there, Sagara was a two time All-American and broke the school’s single-season assist record with 36 in one year.
“She brings a wealth of experience in which our young team will lean on,” said GVSU head coach Jeff Hosler in a previous interview. “She has a tremendous soccer IQ. That, along with her talented skill set, will make everyone around her better. Riko is a true playmaker, but also knows how to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Sagara will most likely be filling the spot of graduating senior Dani Johnson, who was awarded All-American Second Team this past fall. Not only that, but Sagara will be wearing Johnson’s old number: 16.
On defense, Trombley stood out as the anchor of the team’s backline. Trombley will be filling the hole left by senior defender Shannon Quinn, a tall task for head coach Hosler.
“She is someone we have been aware of and followed as a very young player in Lansing and has been coached really well by Dan Jury and others in that community,” Hosler said. “Olivia takes a very focused and mature approach to the game and is a hard worker. She doesn't just want to win, she needs to win, and that fire is evident in the way she plays and carries herself.
"I think she will be a very good fit at the center back position, in a similar mold to what we've seen with Shannon Quinn the last three years.”
Although the senior class will not be back for next year, Gabriella Mencotti was the lone graduating senior entered in the contest. In early February, Mencotti signed a professional contract with Throttur FC (Icelandic: Knattspyrnufélagið Þróttur and pronounced "pro-tour") to play for the club's women's team. Mencotti, who will graduate in April, plans to join the club in May. During her GVSU career, Mencotti totaled 85 scores—including 30 this past fall—which is second all-time at GVSU.
The Lakers will next scrimmage the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday, March 31.