Women’s Soccer falls at home 4-0 to #2 Grand Valley State


TOUGH OPENER—NMU senior defender Rachael Erste throws the ball in for the Wildcats in Friday’s 4-0 loss to Grand Valley State. GVSU is the second-ranked team nationally in Division II, which is a tough way for the ‘Cats to start conference action. Travis Nelson/NW

Travis Nelson, Sports Editor

After battling the second-ranked team in the country for nearly the entire first half, the Wildcats came up short 4-0 against Grand Valley State University at the NMU Soccer Field on Friday afternoon.

It was an even back-and-forth contest for the first 39 minutes of the game, including NMU having two quality chances early from senior midfielder Caroline Halonen and freshman forward Ashley Koch. With 5:03 left in the first half, GVSU took the lead with a goal in transition with a pass from sophomore forward Kennedy Bearden to junior forward Greta Deloach. NMU (2-3, 0-1 GLIAC) made it to halftime only trailing by that one goal, and both teams had three shots going into the break. 

However, in the second half, things got away from the ‘Cats as the 2019 Division II National Champion Lakers outshot them 11-0 and scored three more goals in the second half. Games like these can provide analysis on the state of a program, and this result shows what Northern is aspiring to be after colliding with a nationally ranked foe.

“I think the biggest takeaway from it is if you just showed the difference between the #2 team in the country and where we are,” NMU coach Jon Sandoval said. “I thought we played a solid 39 minutes in the first half, but in order to compete with a team like Grand Valley and the #2 team in the country, you have to put that together for 90 minutes. That means doing your job for 90 minutes and not switching off and doing the little things correctly for that time period.”

GVSU (5-0, 1-0 GLIAC) had four different goal scorers in the match, a true example of the depth that the Lakers have. It didn’t take them long into the second half to extend the lead to two goals, with redshirt sophomore Chantel Carranza scoring in traffic assisted by freshman forward Taylor Reid. Just over four minutes later at 62:21, senior defender Cecilia Steinwascher scored on a header off of the corner kick assisted by sophomore midfielder Alexa Morello and freshman forward Alicia White. The match was all but over from there, but GVSU added one more goal late at 81:09 by freshman midfielder Stephanie Sturgeon off of the assist from senior defender Makenna Schoolman to tie a bow on it. 

The loss wasn’t due to a lack of effort, and the team brought everything it could, Sandoval said. Going forward, there’s optimism that the ‘Cats can put it all together for 90 minutes in a high-profile type of match.

“They [GVSU] are very clinical in what they do, and they were able to score goals from services, set pieces and crosses,” Sandoval said. “What that requires us to do is to be also terrific in those areas defensively, and we weren’t able to do that for the entire time period. I think the majority of their goals after the first one were from set pieces or services or headers. At this level, you can not afford to miss marks and to miss defensive clearances in order to win a game, especially against a team like Grand Valley.”

Sandoval went on to mention that the team can think about this game for about 20 minutes, but the ‘Cats must have a short memory before Sunday’s match with Northwood University. It’s a short turnaround before heading down to Midland, but there are positives that Northern will look to bring with them on that over five-hour bus ride.

“Just the intensity that we came out with and the way that we were able to do our job for that first part of it, for the first 39 minutes or whatever it was,” Sandoval said. “I mean there’s a lot of positives in there, and I think if you finish one of those chances early that we had, then maybe this does turn into a different game.”

In order to knock off a team like GVSU, you have to take advantage of opportunities you’re given, Sandoval said. Now with Northwood on the docket at noon on Sunday, the ‘Cats will try to execute on those chances.