Courtesy of Kevin Meyer, Grand Valley State Athletic Communications Assistant
ALLENDALE, Mich. — The Grand Valley State women's soccer team took care of business on a chilly fall night at GVSU Soccer Field, defeating the visiting Northwood Timberwolves to improve to 14-1-1. With the victory, the Lakers also secured the points necessary to claim the GLIAC Regular Season Championship outright, the 12thstraight for the program.
The Lakers have been outright or co-champions of the GLIAC Regular Season Championship in every season dating back to 2007, and have now clinched it outright in two straight seasons.
"It's pretty remarkable (winning a 12th straight GLIAC title)", GVSU head coach Jeff Hosler said. "There's obviously a very strong culture here, and we're happy that our girls are continuing to work in the direction of solidifying and maintaining that. This season, the way we've gotten results is very impressive, with not conceding a goal to this point in conference play. I'm very happy for our kids, they're a great group of kids that work really hard and buy in. They do a lot of work on their own to create the culture we have here at Grand Valley State."
Sophomore midfielder Tara Lierman was the player of the game, netting herself two goals, including the game winner, in a match that was all GVSU from the opening whistle. The Laker held a 36-1 advantage in shots by the time the game ran full, and produced dangerous opportunities with ease throughout the game.
Lierman's opening salvo came in the seventh minute mark, as she found herself in excellent position to corral a rebound off the gloves of Timberwolves keeper Samantha Cook and easily slot away the goal for an early Laker lead. The goal was just the second of the 2016 campaign for the young midfielder, but she would add a critical strike in the 54th minute to seal the game for the Lakers.
"Tara did exactly what we needed her too today as an attacking mid", Hosler said. "She was clean on the ball, made good decisions and put herself in front of goal. She made a great extra effort on her second goal of the night with a 55 yard run to the far post to find that final ball. She was fantastic tonight, and I'm happy for her."
Not long after Lierman's first goal, the Lakers struck paydirt again, as Kendra Stauffer received a pass from Clare Carlson to the right of goal and fired a high shot into the upper corner of the far side of net to double the Laker lead. That margin would carry into halftime, as the home side was unable to net another goal before the break.
The second goal Lierman notched was a thing of beauty. A ball played into the box by Marti Corby was knocked high into the air by Jayma Martin, and a charging Lierman played it out of the air perfectly, firing a laser of a volley past Cook from 15 feet out to make the score 3-0. That goal opened the flood gates for the Lakers, as it was the first of three goals scored in a 1:27 span of play.
Very shortly after Lierman's second strike, Corby found pay dirt herself, as she connected from 13 feet out in front of goal after a perfect cross from the right side end line by Stauffer. The goal was the fifth for Corby this season, and would be followed by a goal from Martin just 30 second later, her 14th of the season.
As time wound down, Laker forward Lindsay Ebeling netting herself her third goal of the season off of a rebound from a shot by midfielder Dani Johnson. Johnsons powerful and well aimed strike floated just a fraction too high and deflected off the crossbar to a waiting Ebeling, who deftly shot the ball into goal with just 53 ticks left on the clock, and moving the final tally to 6-0 in favor of the Lakers.
"I thought we played really well, it was one of our best performances of the year", Hosler said. "We were incredibly efficient when we possessed and built possession today. I thought our back four was the best we've been offensively, our midfield was the most aware and creative that we've been thus far. All good things, and Northwood's having a really good year, so I feel really good about today."
Moving forward, the Lakers have two remaining GLIAC games, including Sunday's road contest at Saginaw Valley State, a team that played the Lakers very tightly in a September 16th matchup earlier this fall. The Lakers carry a five game winning streak into Sunday's matchup, and have not surrendered a goal in any of those five contests.
"At this time of year, we talk all the time about putting our best performance forward every day", Hosler said. "When you have a solid result like tonight, the challenge is to turn around and match It the next time out, and for us that's Sunday. Momentum is a powerful thing, and if you can generate it becomes a lot easier to maintain."
Stauffer and Martin finished the game with a goal and an assist each, while Gabriella Mencotti, Johnson and Carlson each notched assists. Corby and Ebeling each scored a goal.
Jennifer Steinaway finished the game in goal for the Lakers with a clean sheet, her eighth solo shutout of the season. She made one save in earning the win.