Final Four bound: GVSU beats Ferris State and Central Missouri to advance
GVSU Girl’s Soccer Team facing Purdue Northwest in the GLIAC Tournament on October 30th, 2018. GVL / Emily Modloff
The Grand Valley State women’s soccer team competed in the Midwest NCAA Regional Championship on Friday, Nov. 16 where they beat the Ferris State Bulldogs before advancing to the national quarterfinal, beating the Central Missouri Mules to advance to the national semifinals.
At a brisk 32 degrees, the Lakers battled aggressively against the Bulldogs for a full 90 minutes, vying each minute of the game to get that win. The first half shook the Lakers quickly, with the first and only Bulldog goal to happen within two minutes of the starting whistle.
The goal came off a tip from GVSU’s goalie’s hands, barely making it into the corner of the net. The Lakers responded well, not giving up defensively or offensively, and continued to control most of the possession. Head coach Jeff Hosler said he wasn’t too concerned with the early goal, knowing there was still plenty of game left for the Lakers to bounce back.
“We just had to stick to the game plan,” said Hosler. “The goal came so early, there’s not much you can address, there’s still 43 minutes left in the half.”
In the 29th minute of the match, the Lakers were able to equalize with their first goal. Timia Robinson, with an assist from Sydney O’Donnell, was able to find the back of the net to put GVSU up on the board.
“Clearly it was huge to equalize before halftime and get back to level, and just try to remind our kids to stick to the game plan,” Hosler said. “You don’t have to panic, stick to what you know how to do.”
As those last minutes ticked down, the pressure on the Bulldogs to grab another goal to even the score heightened, but the Lakers kept calm and were able to hold them for the rest of the game, winning by one goal. Despite getting the win, Hosler said several good things came from the match, and is confident his team can well against Central Missouri.
“We’re going to have to be at our best, they’re the defending national champions for a reason,” Hosler said. “I think our styles of play are pretty similar. We’re going to have to play our best to come out on top, and I like the way our team’s playing.”
The Lakers did just that on Sunday, Nov. 18, as they routed the Central Missouri Mules at the GVSU Soccer field 6-1 to advance to the Final Four.
The offensive attack came early and often for GVSU, with Ava Cook finding the back of the net twice in the first seven minutes, the first being assisted by Riko Sagara.
"Part of the game plan was just to go after them, especially in those early minutes," Cook said. "It's vital for any team to get after it right away to shut the other team down. I knew if anyone could score, it'd be a dagger, and I'm just glad we could do that twice early on."
Those goals from Cook, along with two goals from Sagara and two goals from Madeline Becker, helped push the Lakers over the hump, as they punched their tickets to the Final Four in Pittsburgh.
Hosler is known for his masterful game plans heading into these contests, and he loved the way the team executed that game plan on Sunday.
"I thought there were particular holes where we expected them to play, we exploited those early on, which led to goals before they made adjustments," Hosler said. "I'm really proud of the way the kids executed the game plan.
With the win, GVSU remains undefeated on the year and will travel to Pittsburgh to compete for a National Championship berth. While the opponents of those games are yet to be determined, the national semifinal game is set to be played on Nov. 29, while the championship game will be played on Dec. 1.
No matter what happens in Pittsburgh, Hosler is extremely proud of what this team has accomplished as the Lakers look to add another championship banner to hang at the GVSU Soccer Field.
"I'm just proud of everything this group brings," Hosler said. "They're so young, but they've bought in, and they understand that everyday matters, whether that's training or an opponent that goes towards the record."