KANSAS CITY— Redemption is on Western women’s soccer’s mind when they think about the Grand Valley State University Lakers. Why? Grand Valley State knocked off the Vikings last season in the semifinal round en route to a third consecutive National Championship title. “I’m looking forward to it. A little revenge,” senior midfielder Becca Cates said. The Vikings will take on the Lakers for the NCAA Division II Soccer National Championship at 1 p.m. PST, Saturday, Dec. 3 at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Missouri. “It feels awesome to be moving on as a team, with this team,” senior forward Elise Aylward said. Scouting Grand Valley State University (Michigan) Overall record: 22-1-1 Toppling a Goliath As mentioned above, Grand Valley State has won three consecutive National Championships; but 2016 also marks the eighth-consecutive trip to the final four for the team. The Lakers have been ranked nationally in the top 25 since September 13, 2005 and has won at least 20 matches for the last ten seasons. Current Grand Valley State seniors are 91-4-5 overall, amassing Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships in all four seasons to go along with the three National titles. This season marks the school’s 16th consecutive winning season and 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. “They’re a great team and we’re going to have to be at our best to beat them,” head coach Travis Connell said. An offensive powerhouse After its 3-0 win over Columbus State University in the semifinal round, Grand Valley State has now tallied 100 goals on the season. That stat is good for most in the nation, so too are total points (283) and total assists (89). Junior forward Gabriella Mencotti leads the way for the Lakers with a whopping 29 goals on the season, followed by senior forward Jayma Martin (19), senior forward Kendra Stauffer (17) and senior midfielder Marti Corby (12); Corby leads the team in assists with 24. The Lakers have 9 total players with at least 3 goals and average just over 4 goals per match. Grand Valley State has inflated its 4 goal per game average a bit by putting up 11, 10, 8 (twice) and six (twice) goals in a single match. X-Factors Western: seniors Elise Aylward, Becca Cates, Caitlyn Jobanek and Erin Russell What a ride for this quartet of seniors who will put on their Viking kits for the final time Saturday. But for the first time in each of their careers, a championship ring will be on the line. Aylward is second on the team with goals (8) and Jobanek is tied for third (7). Neither got in on the scoring action in the semifinal, but pressed Kutztown’s keeper all night long — Jobanek notching 7 total shots in the effort. Cates is the lone Viking senior who scored on Thursday and she looks to bring that momentum into championship Saturday. Russell could potentially be the biggest of the four x-factors though, due to Grand Valley State’s offensive attack. Russell and the rest of Western’s backline will need to be at their absolute best against the Lakers.
- Bonus: redshirt junior goalkeeper Ashley Homer