ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team will kick off the NCAA Final Four Thursday in Pittsburgh, hoping to extend the most dominant decade in Division II women’s soccer history.
“It feels amazing,” sophomore Ava Cook said. “It’s something that we’ve worked so hard for this season and to finally be able to get there is great. So we’re all ready and set to get after it.”
This is GVSU’s ninth trip to the Final Four in the last 10 years.
“I’m really excited to go,” head coach Jeff Hosler said. “Not making it last year, it’s been a long 12 months of preparations to get the opportunity to get back.”
Remarkably, the Lakers are doing it with one of the youngest teams in the nation.
“We have four seniors,” Hosler said. “Everybody else on our roster is first- or second-year player who will experience this for the first time. So it’s very, very exciting.”
“That just says that we have a lot of hard workers on this team,” Cook said. “Especially at a young age, it’s hard to step into a game like that and be ready to go. We knew from the start that a lot of young girls meant a lot of learning and it’s great to see the focus that everyone brings to practice and you can tell that everyone wants to get better.”
The Lakers are 24-0-1 on the season and ranked No. 1 in the country.
“On any given day, anyone can score and that is what makes our team so special,” senior Tara Lierman said. “Everyone steps up in big moments and we’re not relying on one player. Everyone shows us for every game and that’s huge for us.”
They have rolled through the NCAA tournament so far, with 20 goals in four wins.
“There’s for sure a little pressure,” Cook said, “but it’s just nice knowing that we have some of those leaders that have been here before and can guide us through what it’s like to be at a Final Four and what it’s like to play in these games. So we put a lot of trust in them to get us through it.”
Now only one win away from their eighth final in 10 years, they’re also close to becoming the first team to win six Division II women’s national soccer championships.
“We just kind of take one day at a time,” Hosler said. “But we do have a very solid tradition of excellence here in our soccer program, and being a staple at the Final Four is something we take a lot of pride in.”