Preview: GVSU women's soccer prepares to compete in Final Four
Hailey Wentzloff, GVSU Soccer vs. Rockhurst,11/9/18, GVSU Soccer Feild. GVL/Katherine Vasile
The No. 1 Grand Valley State women’s soccer team is headed to Pittsburgh, Penn. on Thursday, Nov. 29 to play in the last stretch of the NCAA tournament. Now in the final four with the No. 1 seed, there is some heightened pressure on the Lakers, but they are handling it well and taking it day by day.
With nearly two weeks between the Lakers' last game against Central Missouri and their Pittsburgh match-up against Lee, head coach Jeff Hosler said they are preparing slightly different than past tournament practices.
“We’re taking advantage of the opportunity to let the kids get home and spend some time with family and friends over Thanksgiving,” Hosler said. “It gives them a couple days to get their minds off soccer.”
GVSU ended on a high note two weeks ago with a 6-1 victory, sending them in a positive direction heading into the last final matches of the national tournament.
“I think the game gave us additional confidence and belief,” Hosler said. “It definitely reinforced the idea that if you start matches effectively and take it a step further and have a dream start with two goals in the first ten minutes, it can be very debilitating to your opponent.”
The Lakers' current record stands in good shape compared to Lee’s, as they have 6 losses already, but the team is still maintaining the mindset they’ve held all season.
“It’s not really any different for us, to be honest,” Hosler said. “We’ve been in the same mindset all season, nothing really changes there. Just some additional excitement just because of how cool the fall festival is.”
Records aside, GVSU is not overlooking their competition this week.
“You’ve got to be really good to still be playing this time of year,” Hosler said. “Our opponent has been very consistent all year having success, and playing their best soccer in the national tournament.”
This year will be the Lakers ninth appearance in the Final Four match-ups in the last ten years, and the Lakers are focusing on maintaining their style of play just as they have all season. The team is working to continue dictating their style of play, not letting outside pressures or opponents impact the way they play.
The Lakers are also looking to be in a good position to defend the high press, something they’ve previously struggled with throughout this season. With two good training sessions already under their belt, the team is looking good to keep up the hard work and intensity to find success against Lee.
“They’re super excited,” Hosler said. “That game is a long way off, and they just need to be really excited. In comparison to years past, our last session was the best it’s ever been, largely because of the focus and energy they brought.”
The Lakers' starting lineup contains quite a few underclassmen, and for some this will be their first appearance in the Final Four.
Hosler said that with the help of some already experienced seniors and coaching staff, the team should be well prepared and ready to play their best game in the final matches of the tournament.
The Lakers will face off with the Flames on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. to start off the Final Four match-ups.