Pete Barrows

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Archive for November 2013

Women’s basketball earns a split over the weekend

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Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

A successful basketball team functions like a successful song. Every player on the court, like every note on a page of sheet music, has its place, and when strung together melodiously, a natural rhythm is synthesized.

The Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team traveled to Nashville, Tenn., the nation’s country music capital, over the weekend to open its season in the Pops Duncan Classic and test and tune its rhythm against stingy Great LakesValley Conference competition.

A song only a few beats into creation, a season just begun, the Lakers went 1-1 over the weekend and set a baseline from which to build upon. GVL / Archive  Meryl Cripe

“We have so much talent and so much depth, as well the smarts, the athleticism and all the other tools we need to be successful, but a lot of our kids are still so moldable,” senior guard Dani Crandall said. “It’s really exciting playing highly skilled and competitive teams like we saw this weekend and will continue to see this season, and I think our flexibility is going to work to our benefit, even though we’re still young.”

GVSU officially opened the 2013-2014 season Friday on a high note with a 81-68 victory over Truman State University. Sophomore guard Bailey Cairnduff netted eight of the Lakers’ first 10 points with a pair of three-pointers and free-throws, and she helped GVSU out to a 10-4 run.

“We always want to push the ball and keep our tempo fast, that’s our bread and butter,” junior point guard Meryl Cripe said. “When our offense is going, it keeps us moving and catches defenses off guard—it’s fun to play like that and watch.”

Truman State battled back to within one at the 12:26 mark before junior forward Kat LaPrarie helped to conduct another Laker crescendo, but the Bulldogs did not come closer than within five points of the Lakers the rest of the game. Junior Janelle McQueen extended the run with a transition layup at the 11-minute mark of the first half to make it 17-12 GVSU, and freshman guard Piper Tucker pushed the lead to 10 with two consecutive buckets down the floor.

“We really came out with purpose and a lot of kids contributed,” GVSU head coach Janel Burgess said. “I was excited to see how our newcomers performed, top to bottom, and I enjoyed that we had an attack mentality on both ends of the floor.”

The Lakers entered the half up 42-32, and with assistance from a bench that contributed 38 points and 16 rebounds, they led by as many as 20 points in the second half.

“Our flow the first half was great, and we didn’t miss a beat anytime we subbed,” Burgess said. “We had great contributions off the bench, which was a huge lift for us.”

Tucker led all scorers with 15 points, 13 of which came in the first 20 minutes of regulation, while LaPrairie (13), McQueen (12) and Cairnduff (11) joined her in double figures. Crandall was hampered by early foul trouble and was held to a single field-goal attempt, which she converted, but added four more points from the line, where GVSU was a collective 32 of 42 (.761).

“Having so many girls that can contribute in any given game is amazing and really helps to alleviate some pressure,” LaPrarie said. “You’re able to give 100 percent every time you’re out there on the floor, knowing that someone is ready to relieve you from the bench without a drop off.

GVSU returned to the Trevecca Nazarene University arena Saturday afternoon but was defeated 71-57 by the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

“Missouri-St. Louis hit some big shots early on that took the wind out of our sails, but it provided a lot of great lessons for us to learn on the first weekend of the season,” Burgess said. “I’m really excited to watch this young group bounce back.”

Trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half, the Lakers, down 32-24, took a stand over the final 3:32 with an 11-2 run. Crandall sparked the chord with a layup, Tucker added a pair of free throws, sophomore center Jill Steinmetz tripled, McQueen strung in two from the line, and Crandall capped the rift at the buzzer, as she had started it, with a layup to give GVSU a 35-34 halftime advantage.

“We were very upbeat at half,” Burgess said. “We had gotten ourselves into a big hole and dug ourselves back with some savvy play. One or two possessions the other way in the second half could have very easily flipped the energy back in the game.”

Just like a metronome ticking back, the momentum returned to UMSL with the score in the second half as the Tritons opened up a 50-37 lead off of a 16-2 opening run. Senior Hazaria Washington finished the game 8 of 8 from the free throw line and netted nine of her 14 points during the run. USML was 18 of 19 from the line as a team.

“We came out in the second half with two great stops back to back with a turnover in-between, but unfortunately, I think youthfulness was revealed at that point,” Burgess said. “We still cut into the lead, had a couple opportunities to cut it more, but ultimately didn’t make the plays we needed to win.”

The Lakers again attempted to dig their way back as they had in the first half and managed to close within six after Crandall buried a jumper to end a 9-2 GVSU run with 8:42 to play. Crandall played 36 minutes and finished with a game-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field to go with six rebounds and a team-high four assists, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit.

Senior Jessica Zavoral led USML with 19 points, while fellow senior Devonna Smith added 13 as USML quickly pushed a 52-46 lead back to double-digits. GVSU was held to 22 points in the final 20 minutes of play on 32.1 percent shooting.

“It comes down to one simple concept, and that’s finishing,” Burgess said. “We need to finish. Not only in the half, but also on a smaller level, each possession.”

Both squads hauled down 36 rebounds a piece, although the Tritons outshot the Lakers from the field in the game 43.6 percent to 35.7 percent. Zavoral and senior Alyssa Like each tallied six rebounds for USML, while Steinmetz led GVSU with seven boards to go with 11 points.

The Lakers will host their home opener against the No. 10 ranked Lewis University Flyers (1-2), GVSU’s third in-region opponent in eight days, on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. with a tune to carry and a rhythm in mind.

“We have a lot of growing to do, but I’m excited to see us continue to grow,” Burgess said. “This is a tough schedule. We knew it was going to be tough, but I also knew it was going to make us better when we needed to be, which is really every single game.”

pbarrows@lanthorn.com

To read the original post “Women’s basketball earns a split over the weekend”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

November 26, 2013 at 2:38 am

Final Four bound

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soccer wins 2-1 to earn fifth straight semifinal appearance

Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, play it safe and go with the collegiate Division II juggernaut Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team. With consecutive 2-1 victories in NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship play over the weekend, the undefeated (22-0-1) and unflappable Lakers are bound for their fifth consecutive semifinal appearance and determined to finish what they set out to finish at season’s open.

“Each year, we start the season by listing our goals for the season and reaching the Final Four is a big one on there,” GVSU senior defender Kayla Kimble said. “It’s been nice to have been able to check off all the steps along the way, especially for us seniors who never seen anything but the Final Four.”

Both No. 8 Quincy (18-0-4) and No. 1 GVSU entered Friday’s Midwest regional final in Duluth, Minn. undefeated. Familiar opponents, the respective GLVC and GLIAC regular season and tournament champions had met three times prior in postseason play, where the Lakers had won all three encounters.

Quincy allowed only nine goals on the year heading into the match, GVSU only one, and the two defensive minded clubs did not disappoint in a 2-1 contest of grit. Although it was GVSU who once again prevailed to capture an eighth regional title in nine years and advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship tournament for the fifth consecutive season.

Freshman midfielder Marti Corby scored her 10th goal of the season off assists from fellow freshman Kendra Stauffer and junior forward Jenny Shaba to give GVSU a lead midway through the first half. Quincy would quickly rebut.

In minute 27, Quincy senior forward Jaclyn Mastroianni found sophomore midfielder Ashley Burton’s head, who, in turn, found the back of the Laker crease. GVSU was uncharacteristically outshot 3-1 in the first half, but would not allow a single shot on goal in the closing frame.

“Our group of seniors has been to three Final Fours and didn’t see anything they weren’t already accustomed to Friday, but in these kind of games, the margin for error is very small,” GVSU coach Dave Dilanni said. “I thought we could have done a little better job of possessing the ball in the second half, but defensively, we were just as good as we have been so far this year.”

Junior midfielder Charlie Socia put GVSU up to stay six minutes into the second half off of a corner kick assist from senior defender Tayler Ward. It was Socia’s seventh goal and fifth game-winner of the season.

If some is good, more is better and the Lakers returned to the pitch Sunday to produce a familiar outcome, dealing Minnesota Duluth its first home-loss of the season. The quarterfinal concluded in another stingy 2-1 outcome.

“What a great game it was, but this probably as proud as I’ve been in my 11 years here at Grand Valley, and we’ve had a lot of success,” Dilanni said. “Just the weather, the field, the opponent, I thought we really hung in there playing the hometown team that was on a roll and playing just great soccer.”

At times it wasn’t pretty, at times it was, but this point it’s just about winning and advancing.”

Minnesotta Duluth did mount an early onslaught with five shots in the first 20 minutes of regulation, but junior forward Maureen Stormont, one of the nation’s most prolific scorers who entered the match with 18 goals to her credit, was held to a single shot-on-goal. Minnesota Duluth did outshoot GVSU 12-11 (6-5 in the first half) in the match, but was foiled, in part, by six saves from GVSU senior keeper Abbey Miller.

“I think the dimensions of the field created a little bit more of a physicality in the game,” Dilanni said. “10 fouls to nine, I wouldn’t say that either team was dirty, but you got two teams that wanted to get to the Final Four. Two different styles, but both teams put it all out there.”

In a repeat of Friday’s winning formula, Corby again drew the game’s first blood in the fourth minute of the first half, placing a 20-yard free kick deftly into the bottom-left 90 of the Minnesota Duluth crease. It was Corby’s fifth goal in the last five contests, and her third goal inGVSU’s three NCAA tournament matches.

“I think in the beginning of the season, I was a little nervous, but as the season’s gone on, I’ve gotten more confident and have been hitting it right,” Corby said.

In minute 72, Socia beat her defender one-on-one and chipped in her sixth game-winning goal of the year with her left foot to again complete the equation for GVSU. Minnesota Duluth kept it close throughout and junior midfielder Jennifer Smith tallied the third goal netted against GVSU all season in minute 82, but the damage was already done.

“I think the turning point for us for us was scoring early,” Dilanni said. “Four minutes into the game, it’s hard to say that that’s the turning point, but you’re not going to score a lot of goals in the NCAA quarterfinal. It made a huge difference in a tight game to get out in front.”

A continued tradition, the GVSU women’s soccer has achieved sustained success for the better part of decade, yet appears to be currently fielding a team of historic proportions. Two games separate the 2013 squad from an apparent destiny.

“It’s hard to compare this team to past GVSU teams – each team is different for lots of different reasons – but this team has a lot of different layers,” Dilanni said. “The underclassman are playing for the seniors, the seniors are doing a great job of providing leadership and they don’t want it to end. It’s as close of a team as I’ve ever had.”

That doesn’t mean you’re going to win games, but it certainly helps facing adversity in certain moments of a game. No moment, good or bad, should shake us. We have to continue to push forward, 90 minutes at a time.”

The top-seeded and top-ranked Lakers will advance to face No. 13 ranked and No. 2 seed American International in a Final Four match to be played on Dec. 5 in Evans, Ga. No. 3 West Florida (16-0-3) will square off against the winner of Western Washington University and St. Edwards University to complete the bracket.

“We need to work on set pieces,” Dillani said. “We came in with one goal on the season and allowed two in two games, one off a corner and one off of a free kick, but those are easy things to work on. We have a plan to stay mentally and physically refreshed over Thanksgiving and we’re all in. We’re riding some great momentum right now and are anxious for the next challenge.”

pbarrows@lanthron.com

Written by peterdbarrows

November 25, 2013 at 9:03 pm

The future is bright for GVSU women’s basketball team

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Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

In women’s collegiate basketball, the future is something every team reaches and redefines at a rate of 40 minutes a game—whoever they are, however they play. With the countdown to a new season set for Friday, the future is flying towards the Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team.

Every minute counts.

“Every night will be different for our lineup in terms of minutes played because we have great depth, which should be one of our greatest assets this year,” GVSU seventh year coach Janel Burgess, who is 103-64 in her career, said. “For us coaches to be able to balance that depth and for our players to really take advantage of the minutes they’re going to have the opportunity to compete in, it’s exciting.”

GVSU will return nine players from the 2012-13 team that capped a 19-8 (15-7 GLIAC) record with an appearance in the conference tournament for the eighth time in nine years, although only one of the nine, senior guard Dani Crandall, started.

“Dani Crandall, who has played behind some other great players, is going to be our lone senior,” Burgess said. “This is her year to lead the show and really display great leadership and great calmness from the floor.”

In 18 games as a starter and 25.4 minutes per game last season, Crandall averaged 8.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and1.7 assists, while shooting 44.4 percent from the floor. Although Crandall will be asked to assume an even larger role vacated by last seasons leading scorer (15.8 points per game), rebounder (6.9 rebounds per game) and setup woman (3.2 assists per game) Briauna Taylor, this year.

“In the past, I’ve kind of been a role player,” Crandall said. “I’d come in for Briauna or I’d be the sixth man off the bench, whatever coach needed me to do. This year, I think I have defined my role a little differently.

“Being the only senior, I’m looking to lead the team, not necessarily on the stat sheet part, but most definitely in the vocal and experience driven parts.”

Joining Crandall and junior point guard Meryl Cripe in the starting rotation will be junior returners center Daina Grazulis and forward Kat LaPrairie, GVSU’s deadeye sixth man who last season knocked down 43 3-pointers and was recently named to the preseason All-GLIAC second team.

“I think you can really count all three of those young ladies together with Dani as players who will help to shape our season,” Burgess said. “Meryl, Daina and Kat are all third year players who have a done a really great job of just being who they are.”

Also factoring heavily into the rotation will be sophomore guard/forward sharpshooter Bailey Cairnduff and uber athletic junior guard Janelle McQueen, both Division I transfers. Cairnduff, who played in 32 games last season for Bowling Green will start for the Lakers, while McQueen, who started in 25 games last season for Texas Southern, should be supplied ample minutes to make her impact felt off the bench.

“You look at Janelle and Bailey, both of them bring different things,” Burgess said. “Janelle is explosive with the ball getting to the basket, Baily is a great shooter, but can still create off the dribble and both of those ladies are really excited to be here at GVSU.”

The freshman class comprised of forward Kayla Dawson, a semifinalist for Miss Basketball of Wisconsin as a high school senior, guard Taylor Lutz, a two-time Northern Indiana Conference first-team selection, guard Keyara Wiard, a three-time All-West Michigan Conference and all-area selection, forward Piper Tucker, a member of the Lansing State Journal ‘Dream Team’ who holds the free-throw percentage record at East Lansing high school and Janae Langs, a four-time All-Southern Central Athletic Association athlete, should also make an instant impression upon GVSU basketball.

“We may be real young, but we work extremely hard and a lot of that goes to this hardworking group of freshman,” Cripe said. “They all will be asked to provide different things at different times this season, but they all work so hard, you can tell they love it, and they’re just as happy to be here as we are happy to have them.

Selected to finish third in the eight-team GLIAC North Division preseason poll behind Michigan Tech and Wayne State, and ahead of Ferris State, GVSU enters the season without tempered aspirations.

“Nothing is going to change from what we always need to do, which is to be our best when our best is needed,” Burgess said. “Being picked third is not necessarily surprising, as youthful as we are, but I’m excited to see how we continue grow and improve each and every day. I also hope that we really embrace that theGLIAC is probably the toughest, top-to-bottom, that it’s ever been.”

The Lakers will travel south to participate in the Pops Duncan Classic to be hosted in Nashville, Tenn. and will officially embark upon the season Friday with an 8:30 p.m. tipoff against Truman State. GVSU will return to the court Saturday at 1:00 p.m. to play Missouri-St. Louis.

“This is our toughest schedule that we will have ever played and we’re excited to take this team down to Nashville,” Burgess said. “We’ll play 26 Division II teams and all of the non-conference teams we’ll see had records over .500 last year. It’s going to be a heck of a little journey, but we are excited to get started.”

With GLIAC championship ambitions, the Lakers will look to continue to grow and progress throughout the season, while helping to define GVSU basketball; game-by-game, minute-by-minute. The clock is set, the time is now.

“What we’re really trying to continue to establish is to play basketball at a fun, fast pace where fans can enjoy coming to watch us play and can understand and appreciate that our young ladies have tremendous character and work ethic,” Burgess said. “We don’t know what the end result of the season will be, but I can promise you that are girls are going to play as hard as they possibly can, day-by-day, as they grow.”

pbarrows@lanthorn.com

To read the original post “The future is bright for GVSU women’s basketball team”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

November 21, 2013 at 7:23 am

Battling the elements

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Women’s soccer wins its first NCAA tournament game

Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

Stiff winds raked across mud soaked turf Sunday as the Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team defeated Rockhurst University 5-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional.

It was just business as usual for the Lakers, who have had to contend with the elements as often as any opponent this season.11830_soccer_rgb01o

“The weather, it’s something we just deal with,” sophomore defender Katy Woolley said. “We make a big deal out of playing the way we know how to play and then make adjustments as necessary as we go along.”

Playing into the wind, freshman forward Erika Bradfield rebounded a shot by junior midfielder Charlie Socia and drew the first blood of the game in the sixth minute of the match. Up 1-0, the Lakers only managed to outshoot Rockhurst 5-4 in the first half and did not score again until the second.

“We were a little bit lucky to not have given up a goal in the first half, and at halftime, we talked about how we need to be better in those situations,” GVSU coach Dave Dilanni said. “We stressed that we didn’t play great in the back end of the half but also said we’re still up 1-0 and we need to win now.

“Sometimes, it’s important to focus on the positives instead of the negatives.”

The winds shifted in the second stanza as the Lakers sailed to a commanding five-goal lead in a little less than 12 minutes of play.

“The elements obviously played a role in both halves,” Dilanni said. “We made the decision early on to play heading into the wind, assuming it was going to get a little stronger in the second half, but that didn’t happen. I also expected our depth to play a bigger role than it did, but I thought we really turned a corner to start that second half.”

In minute 54, Bradfield contributed to another goal on a redirection that bounced in off a Rockhurst defender. Four minutes later, junior forward and GVSU season point leader Jenny Shaba struck pay dirt off an assist from Socia.

“I think going with the game plan today was really important,” Woolley said. “We knew the weather was going to be terrible with the wind, and keeping it on the ground, especially in the first half, allowed us to get that first goal. In the second half, we just took advantage of the opportunities like we always do.”

In minute 65, Bradfield launched a long pass to Shaba, who finished a one-on-one opportunity against goalkeeper Ali Wallner with a strike to the middle of the Rockhurst crease. Freshman midfielder Marti Corby then capped the game with a blast from the box 30 seconds later.

“We really worked together as a team, and I think in the second half, we moved the ball considerably better than we did in the first half,” Shaba said. “Keeping the ball on the ground was definitely a key, considering the wind, and it made it easier for everyone on the field to play with each other.”

Feet and ball on the ground, the Lakers tallied shutout and consecutive win No. 20 of the season while extending the longest home winning streak in NCAA Division II history to 63 games. GVSU concluded the game with a 25-7 shot advantage over Rockhurst.

“The little things are crucial for us,” Shaba said. “They were today, they have been this season, and they’ll continue to be. But today, big picture, it just feels great. Every year in the beginning of the season, we make a long list of goals, and anytime we move on towards another goal, it’s a good day.”

Now 20-0-1 on the season, the Lakers will advance to play Midwest Regional No. 2 seed Quincy (18-0-4), the No. 8 ranked team in the latest NSCAA poll, Friday at a site that has yet to be determined. The obstacles left to be conquered by GVSU—weather, travel, opponents to face—are growing fewer and are steadily traversed each week.

“For us, it’s all in house,” Dilanni said. “We need to get healthy, take care of ourselves and be in a good frame of mind, but it is good for us to get a game like this for our young kids to play. We have a lot of players who do not have game experience in the tournament, so that was exciting for them. It’s also good for them to know that if they put in the effort, they’re going to get the reward.

“To get the first postseason victory helps progress the entire team, and this team is really just about trying to extend the season each week. This team loves each other, they want to keep playing, and we’re going to try to climb the ladder here, rung by rung.”

pbarrows@lanthorn.com

To read the original post “Battling the elements”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

November 21, 2013 at 7:17 am

There’s no place like home; GVSU tops Tech, wins seventh straight GLIAC tourney

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GVSU has not lost at home in 62 games, a new NCAA Division II record

Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team kit does not include red cleats, but if it did, the Lakers would click their heels together often.11797_soccer_rgb01o (1)

With a 2-0 victory over Michigan Technological University (14-5-1) on Sunday, GVSU captured its seventh consecutive GLIAC title, stretched a home streak at the GVSU Soccer Field to an NCAA Division II record-setting 62 straight games without a loss, and will maintain home-field advantage for at least another week as it embarks into NCAA Tournament play.

“Our kids feel great about playing at our field and we feel really good about how we’re going to play,” GVSUhead coach Dave Dilanni said. “It doesn’t mean we’re never going to lose, but we feel very comfortable in our chances to compete and get a good win when we’re here.”

GVSU opened the GLIAC Tournament Friday and played inspired soccer from whistle-to-whistle in a 7-0 rout against Ferris State University. It was the fifth time this season the Lakers netted at least six goals in a game.

Freshman midfielder Marti Corby started the scoring in minute eight with a shot to the upper left of the FSUcrease before she returned less than a minute later to bend a ball from the center of the box.

Junior forward Jenny Shaba, who received GLIAC “Offensive Player of the Year” honors prior to the semifinal match, assisted on both goals. Shaba, the GLIAC leader in points this season, led GVSU with two goals and four assists in the match.

“That was probably a career day for Jenny,” Dilanni said. “Not just because of the points, but because of how she played, how she approached the game. And we need Jenny Shaba, who puts a lot of pressure on teams because of her strength and her speed, just as we need lots of other players to keep playing the way they are to continue our run.”

Junior defender Juane Odendaal became Laker No. 17 to score this season with a strike in minute 17. Senior midfielder Shelby Humphries extended the Lakers’ lead to four at half, and Shaba effectively put the match out of reach in minute 48.

Junior midfielder Charlie Socia connected on a cross from Shaba in minute 58 for goal No. 6, and Shaba concluded the game with a strike off a cross from sophomore forward Katie Bounds in minute 66.

“It’s not every game that you’re going to score seven goals, but we had really struggled to score goals for three or four games in a row,” Dilanni said. “All the credit goes to the kids. We give them information and they just seem to play very fast and very aggressive. The ball movement we saw this weekend was some of the best I’ve seen in my career here, and Friday, it resulted in some really nice goals.”

Sunday, the Lakers outshot the Huskies of Michigan Tech 14-1 in the first half but were unable to crack the crease until minute 66.

“Michigan Tech has had a very good season as well, and we knew this game was not going to be a game that we would be winning 7-0,” senior defender Sam Decker said. “Michigan Tech was the only team that scored on us this season, and we were ready to get back and prove we deserved the win today.”

Freshman forward Kendra Stauffer placed a pass in the right quadrant of the box for Humphries to distribute. Freshman forward Olivia Emery was the beneficiary of Humphries’ patience and broke the scoreless tie. Stauffer notched a goal of her own in minute 80.

“To be able to go undefeated throughout the season, get through this first step in tournament play and still be ranked No. 1 is an amazing feeling,” GLIAC “Defensive Player of the Year” Kayla Kimble said. “All season we’ve pushed for this and no matter who else comes our way, we’re going to stayed focused and have fun with it all.”

Also earning hardware for the Lakers were senior goalkeeper Abbey Miller, who became the first recipient of the GLIAC “Goalkeeper of the Year” award, while Dilanni collected his fifth “Coach of the Year” award of his 11-year GVSU career.

Kimble, Shaba, Miller and four other Lakers—Odendaal, Corby, Socia and senior defender Tayler Ward—were named to the 2013 All-GLIAC team. Stauffer was placed on the All-GLIAC Second Team, and sophomore defender Katy Woolley was an honorable mention.

Kimble, Woolley, Corby and Shaba also collected GLIAC All-Tournament team distinctions.

GVSU improved to 19-0-1 on the year and earned a Friday-night bye. The team will play again on Sunday against an opponent, likely Wisconsin-Parkside (13-4-3), that will be in part determined by the result of a Monday match at 7:30 p.m.

“Now that we’re through the GLIAC part of the season, it really is ‘you lose, you’re done’,” Decker said. “We don’t want our season to be over next weekend, we don’t want it to be done the weekend after that—we really want to keep this going. This week in practice, we’ll recover from the last two months and focus on what’s to come next.

“We know exactly what every game means from here on out. We’re going to focus on every team that comes our way, and take care of what we need to, but on the field, they’ll be just another team standing in the way of another goal we want to take care of. We have these goals and we know if we lose, that’s all gone, the rest of the season’s done and we’re not ready for that.”

The Emerald City of Oz in sight, the Lakers push forward along the yellow brick road that they have paved to this point with wins, honors and records in hopes of returning home with the national title they crave more than anything else.

“At this point, everyone’s playing well, but we’re hungry,” Dilanni said. “We just have to take care of ourselves and stay healthy. Control the controllable; get our minds and bodies in the right place. I think winning seven (GLIAC Tournament titles) in a row really speaks to the commitment level our kids have given us, but we’re not done, yet. It’s been an impressive run and I’m really proud of our kids and of how this team has come together so far.”

pbarrows@lanthorn.com

To read the original post “There’s no place like home”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

November 12, 2013 at 10:18 am

No. 1 and No. 3 ranked XC teams set sights on regionals

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Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

Among the nation’s Division II cross-country elite, the Grand Valley State University cross-country program is a perennial leader of the pack.

The men’s team at GVSU has won GLIAC titles 12 years in a row, the women 13, as the squads swept the field at the GLIAC championship meet at Michigan Tech University on Oct. 26. The lady Lakers have been ranked No. 1 in the nation since the preseason USTFCCCA was unveiled; the men rank No. 3.

In the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Championship meet at Wisconsin-Parkside University Saturday, the Lakers will be favored, as they have been for much of the season. Although in cross-country, the farther you are ahead, the more people there are chasing your steps.

“Rankings really don’t mean much in our sport,” said GVSU coach Jerry Baltes, who was recently named theGLIAC Head Coach of the Year on both the men’s and women’s sides. “It’s nice to have the respect of our piers, but ultimately the higher we are, the bigger the target on our back.

“There are a lot of very strong teams in the top 10 on both sides, and we will need to be ready to compete to the best of our ability this weekend at the regional and beyond at the NCAA Championship, when the time presents itself.”

Regionals will be run along the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross-Country course, a trying venue, and the University of Southern Indiana and Wisconsin-Parkside field strong teams ready to compete. Although, the Lakers have plenty of experience both with challenging courses and challengers.

“It’s definitely a tough course, but not near as tough at Michigan Tech was two weeks ago,” GVSU senior Larry Julson said. “The biggest trick to running at big meets is staying calm. It’s easy to get caught up in all the hype of who you are racing against or what meet you are at, but nothing is changing; a race is still just a race.

“We go out everyday and run, and these big meets aren’t any different. It’s really a mindset to embrace that you’ve done it a million times.”

Two-time GLIAC men’s cross country athlete of the week Alan Peterson, a junior, has led the Lakers for much of the season, but it was senior Brent Showerman who captured GLIAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year GLIAC honors after pacing the field at the GLIAC Championship meet with a time of 25 minutes and 18.8 seconds on the eight-kilometer course. Showerman is the ninth straight Laker to win both the meet and the award.

Sophomore Chad Cini, senior Josh Moskalewski and Julson have also been integral to the Lakers’ success this season.

“The men are coming off of their best team performance of the season at the GLIAC meet,” GVSU assistant coach Nick Polk said. “We saw what teamwork and cohesiveness can do for the group’s confidence. The group will continue to be our strength, but we will look to the front-running of Alan Peterson and Brent Showerman to guide us into the championship season.”

Junior Allyson Winchester came in second at the GLIAC meet with a time of 22:09.4 and paced a pack of threeGVSU student-athletes who finished in the top five. Sophomore Jessica Janecke placed third (22:16.1), while senior Courtney Brewis came across the line in fifth (22:28.5). All three earned First Team All-GLIAC honors, although quality depth has also helped to define the lady Lakers this season.

“The women have been solid and consistent, and we feel we have 10-plus women that we can put on the starting line and get the job done,” Polk said. “We haven’t seen a complete race run yet from the women this year, but they are capable of great things and have been training like a great team. In our next two races, we expect to see it click and all of our training to come together to produce the team race we’ve been waiting for.”

With only the regional meet left separating the Lakers from the NCAA Division II National Championship meet in Spokane, Wash., on Nov. 23, GVSU will continue to run from the front without looking back.

“We are going to keep doing what we have been doing all year long; keep our nose to the grindstone and stay hungry,” Julson said. “Even if we win regionals, it won’t be enough until we win a national title. That is where our mindset has to be if we want to be there.

“In order for us to do what we want (win a national championship), we all need to have a really good day, which is completely in the realm of possibility. We’ve still got two and half weeks until the big dance to shine our shoes and iron our shirts, so I’m very excited about what we can do.”

pbarrows@lanthorn.com

To read the original post “No. 1 and No. 3 ranked XC teams set sights on regionals”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

November 8, 2013 at 3:06 am

GVSU women’s basketball shows no quit in exhibition opener against MSU

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Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

East Lansing, MI – The Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team gave up plenty in a 91-47 loss to Michigan State University on Sunday, including size, points and a distinct home court disadvantage at the Breslin Center. 11774_wbball_prc01f

GVSU did not, however, give up, a crucial denotation as the Lakers embark upon their 2013-14 campaign.

“Our goal this season is to continue to define what GVSU women’s basketball is all about,” GVSU coach Janel Burgess said. “We play at a high pace, our tempo will be tremendous, which should be fun to watch, I think, and we’ll continue to be the selfless team we’ve shown to be in the last 12 weeks of preseason.”

GVSU junior forward Kat LaPrairie knocked down a three and senior guard Dani Crandall hit a layup, allowing the Lakers to open the exhibition on a 5-2 run. The run was short lived though as MSU would lead from 13:54 minute mark on.

Texas southern transfer, junior guard Janelle McQueen, debuted with the Lakers in the contest to the tune of 12 points and eight rebounds, leading GVSU in both categories.

“They’re bigger than us, which we can’t help, but really, it was just another game,” McQueen said. “I’ve played at Baylor, at Arkansas, at plenty of other Division I schools at their places, but as a team, we’ll grow from this.”

The Spartans outrebounded the Lakers 33-25, although GVSU did grab nine offensive boards leading to eight second-chance points.It was the self-inflicted errors – two quick fouls to Dani Crandall in the second half, six missed layups and a 9 of 17 mark from the free throw line – that proved most troublesome for the Lakers.

“I thought we probably played a solid 35 minutes, to be flat out honest,” Burgess said. “I thought we executed well on the offensive end, but defensively against a great Big 10 team, if you have slip ups, they’re going to make everyone know that you screwed up.

A lot of our screw-ups came on commination on switches or rebounding, and if we can clean up those two things – which are easy cleanups – we’ll improve a lot, quickly, and be pretty solid.”

Nine Lakers will return from last year’s third place GLIAC North team (19-8, 15-7 GLIAC), including starting guard Crandall, the lone senior on this year’s team. Crandall averaged 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds, while shooting 44 percent from the field.

“Tonight, we really tried to focus on ourselves and do the things we know we can do,” Crandall said. “I think we did that and showed a lot of people that we’re going to be in a good place this year.”

GVSU has played MSU annually since 2005 and has established a 3-11 record against the Spartans. The frame set in place, the Laker program is still in search of a defining moment and hopes to find it this season.

“We have been pretty disappointed in our final results the last few years and our goal this year is to take theGLIAC,” Crandall said. “I think our confidence got boosted tonight, knowing that we can score. We got opportunities against bigger, much more athletic players than what we will see in the GLIAC. We really have to work on our communication, our physicality and have a few little things to clean up, but this was a really great start for us.”

The Lakers will host Madonna Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. to wrap up exhibition play.

“I’m very proud of the long ladies on our roster and tonight and for the rest of the season, we have to give them everything we can,” Burgess said. “This is a great group of kids. They focus on each other and not who gets the glory, and we’re excited to challenge ourselves everyday on the court.”

pbarrows@lanthorn.com

To read the original post “GVSU women’s basketball shows no quit in exhibition opener against MSU”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

November 3, 2013 at 8:00 am