LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Grand Valley State captured a second consecutive NCAA championship with a 3-0 victory against Rollins at Owsley B. Frazier Stadium.
"This year, we were able to present a different challenge to them, being defending national champions," first-year coach Jeff Hosler said. "Being a new coaching staff, we never talked about being the national champions. Never once did the girls hear us talk about last year, or the national championship. That was our mentality all along: if we [win a national title] this year, it's going to be because we earn it; it's not going to be given to us because we won one last year."
Strong defense quickly contributed to scoring opportunities. Just 16 ticks into the sixth minute, a defensive clear set up a run for the GVSU offense. Freshman forward Gabriella Mencotti got a bouncing ball inside the 18-yard box onto her right foot, sending it across the box to senior forward Jenny Shaba. One touch later, Shaba blasted her 11th goal of the season past a diving Mary Spring.
"The first goal was huge, because it allowed us to settle in," Hosler said. "I thought Rollins did a good job the first 10 minutes of the game of delivering some probing and penetrating balls."
True to its year-long adage, the Lakers were relentless. Even after the goal, they hounded Rollins' undersized back line, seemingly amplifying the pressure with every run at goal, eventually finishing with 11 shots.
Then came the reappearance of sophomore forward Kendra Stauffer. The 2013 most outstanding offensive player of the NCAA tournament hadn't scored a goal since Sep. 28 at Findlay. She had been inching closer to ending the scoring drought in recent weeks, but couldn't seem to break through. Well, not until the Lakers needed an insurance goal in their biggest match anyway.
A gorgeous aerial through ball from sophomore midfielder Marti Corby gave Stauffer a one-on-one opportunity. After letting the ball bounce, Stauffer lined it up. With the keeper charging out, Stauffer lifted a perfect chip shot into the vacated goal.
Roughly 36 minutes after Stauffer's goal, Shaba added an exclamation point with 41 seconds left. The 2013 GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year rifled a shot from the middle of the 18 to make it 3-0.
"I was super pumped to just get after it, knowing it would be my last game," Shaba said. "I was just happy to be able to perform for my team."
Hosler saw something else on that final goal, too.
"I think Shaba was trying to smash the ball as hard as she could on the final goal to send a message," he grinned.
Shortly after the final horn sounded and the frenzied celebration began, Corby, Gabriella Mencotti, Shaba and Strauss were named to the All-NCAA tournament team. Shaba earned most outstanding offensive player honors, while Strauss was named most outstanding defensive player.
With its championship victory, the Lakers are now one of only two Division II programs with at least four NCAA championships. They also became the first school in Division II history to win back-to-back national titles twice.