Second annual exhibition match draws buzzing crowd.
Josh Peick-Grand Valley Lanthorn
Usually a 2-0 loss would warrant a stern postgame talk followed by a tough practice the next day. But when that loss is against a semipro team, it calls for some celebration.
This is the situation the Grand Valley State men's soccer club found themselves in against the Grand Rapids Football Club in an exhibition game on April 15.
The Lakers played a hard-fought game, but came up just short against GRFC. Although the end result was a loss, the Lakers and head coach Jeff Crooks were happy with the outcome.
"Just playing this game and having all these people coming out and letting these guys play, it's good for us," Crooks said.
The participation of GRFC boosted crowd attendance, with GRFC's loyal fans coming out to support the team. The drums and vuvuzelas were present and loud for the game, but the large crowd was not the only perk of playing a professional team for the GVSU squad.
"It's really cool to see how you size up against players that are or have been (Division I players) and really tells you how good you are," said sophomore Griffon Dean.
Dean was one of the few Lakers to have scoring opportunities throughout the game. He was able to generate a shot on net after a turnover in the offensive zone.
"I was waiting for the right back to play the long ball across to the left back, and once he did, I cut it off and had a nice first touch to get a good shot off," Dean said.
GVSU had few opportunities on offense because much of the focus was to limit GRFC's scoring chances.
"Defensively, stay organized and stay behind the ball," Crooks said. "When we get the ball back, keep the ball and possess the ball."
The defensive approach was due to GVSU playing against a faster and bigger team.
"Trying to do anything more complicated than just be simple, we probably would have gotten more goals scored on us," Crooks said.
Although GVSU's focus was on defense, the team did have a few offensive opportunities. Freshman goaltender David Bump manned the net for GVSU in the second half, and shouted out orders for the rest of the team on how to attack the GRFC defense.
"We were just looking for openings in a defense that was well compacted and well managed," Bump said. "We had some good offensive opportunities that we really connected in the middle."
At the end of the day, the opening minutes of each half were the deciding moments in the game. GRFC scored within the first 10 minutes of the game did the same in the second half. GRFC scored 17 seconds into the second half for the second goal of the game. The Lakers picked up play in the end of the game, but time ran out before any damage could be done.
"If we would have had a little more time, I think we would have done better in the final third," Crooks said.
Even though time ran out, the Lakers were happy with the way the game went. GVSU has two more games left in the spring before the fall season begins.
"It was a great test for us and to play teams at that level will prepare us for the upcoming fall season," Bump said.
GVSU made it to the Midwest Alliance Soccer Conference regional tournament last season and will look to have another appearance next season.