GRFC women look to defend national title

Sports
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids FC women’s team ended its regular season on a high note, defeating Fort Wayne 7-1 at Grandville High School on Sunday.

With a two-game winning streak in order and outscoring opponents 21-1 in the last two games, No. 2 seed GRFC ( 23 points) has caught fire heading into the postseason.

Awaiting them is the No. 3 Detroit Sun FC (6-2-2, 20 points) for a 6 p.m. matchup Thursday at the East Lansing Soccer Complex.

GRFC is looking to defend its United Women’s Soccer title from last year. On that championship team was midfielder Marti Corby. She said the team feels as if a target is on its back.

“Winning a national championship makes everyone look at you the next year,” Corby said. “Everyone has got on the same page and bought into the culture. We’ve found a way to make a lot of the same things happen and that speaks to the GRFC organization as a whole.”

Playing as a team and with heart were two keys to success in the playoffs, according to Corby.

“Once you get into these do-or-die games, it really shows the character on each team,” Corby said. “It shows how deep you are willing to dig to win.”

Fellow GRFC midfielder Cindy Lay, a native of Australia, said these are the games that motivate her when training during the season.

“It would be good to come back to Australia with a trophy or medal,” Lay said. “All the people at home will be supporting me.”

Lay had three goals in the win over Fort Wayne.

GRFC and Detroit have met twice this season, both resulting in one-goal victories for Grand Rapids. The Suns are coming off a 6-0 win of their own against Fort Wayne on Friday night.

Head coach James Gilpin said beating a team three times is extremely difficult.

“When you play a team once, you get an idea for each other. When you play them again, more of the puzzle is shown and you have some ideas of this is how we can attack and defend, this is their weakness and our strengths and how we can match up,” Gilpin said. “The third time, we know each other very well. I think there is a lot of neutralization going on all over the field.

“It’s about who can have that special moment or trick up their sleeve,” he added. “It’ll be close.”

In the nightcap of semifinal contests at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, No. 1 Lansing United (7-3-0, 24 points) will go against the No. 4 Michigan Legends (5-3-2, 18 points).

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