Dec. 7, 2013
Evans, Ga. - It was only fitting for the Grand Valley State women's soccer team to claim its third NCAA Division II national championship in the past five seasons with a shutout. The No. 1 Lakers defeated No. 3 West Florida, 2-0, in Saturday (Dec. 7) afternoon's national title match.
GVSU used its depth to grind down the Argos' normally stout defense and kept a pair of potent forwards at bay.
"All year long we played the players I thought the moment needed. Our girls have been very selfless about their roles," head coach Dave DiIanni said after the match. "Everybody wants to play 90 minutes, but what has been special about this team is how they've accepted a lot of the young kids' roles and we feel like a team. There is a lot of chemistry. I give our seniors credit for that."
"We said from the beginning, depth was going to be a big factor. It came to fruition during the game."
After trading a few errant shots in the opening minutes of action, West Florida provided the match's first scoring chance in the 21st minute. Senior goalkeeper Abbey Miller made sure the Argos did not get on the board. Chelsea Palmer fired a shot toward the right post from 13 yards out, but Miller slid over and swatted it away.
Just 53 seconds later, freshman forward Kendra Stauffer found an open shooting lane roughly five yards inside the right corner of the goal box. Her shot curved just outside the left post, which kept things knotted up at 0-0.
With the Argos on the attack in the 52nd minute, Miller once again came up with an outstanding save. Sashana Campbell corralled a loose ball near the top of the 10-yard box only to watch her shot find Miller's reliable hands.
The momentum created from the defensive stand helped the Lakers turn the tables on West Florida at the 58:35 mark.
What appeared to be an innocent shot on target wound up being Corby's fourth goal of the NCAA Tournament. The Ada, Mich. native tested keeper Sarah Story with a hard shot from the top of the goal box, which hit the bottom of her hands and rolled over the line for the go-ahead tally.
Corby closed out the season with six goals and three assists in GVSU's final seven matches.
A numbers advantage in transition allowed the Lakers to tack on an insurance goal in the 76th minute. Junior forward Jenny Shaba delivered a through-ball to Stauffer, who slipped behind the UWF backline to set up a two-on-one with sophomore forward Katie Bounds streaking down the right half of the pitch.
Stauffer forced Story to come up and stop her shot, which allowed Bounds to await the rebound and drive the ball into a wide-open goal.
GVSU's defense made sure the two-goal advantage held up. Over the final 37:26 of regulation, the Lakers only yielded one shot.
"It feels good to put the seniors out on top," Corby said. "We work hard for them."
"I'm really proud of our team effort," DiIanni said. "It wasn't pretty, but we dug in and did all the intangible stuff to get this win"
Senior defender Juane Odendaal, Shaba and Stauffer were named to the all-tourament team. Stauffer was voted the Offensive Player of the Tournament.
The Lakers posted their 21st shutout of the season and earned their 24th victory of the year. The 21 blank sheets matches the Division II record currently held by GVSU's 2010 squad, which also won a national title.
Miller set a record of her own by holding the Argos scoreless. Her 0.16 goals-against average ranks second all-time in Division II and breaks Chelsea Parise's school record.
As a team, GVSU matched a program-record with a .840 shutout-percentage, which also ranks tied for second in Division II history. The Lakers' 24 wins were a school record and are tied for the fourth-most in the Division II record books.
GVSU finished the 2013 campaign with a 24-0-1 overall record to claim its first national title since 2010.