Courtesy of Grand Valley St. Athletic Communications
MANKATO, Minn. – The No. 2 Grand Valley State Lakers punched their ticket to the NCAA Final Four with a 5-2 win over the No. 13 Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks at SCHEELS Field inside the Maverick All Sports Dome Sunday (Dec. 8) afternoon in the Elite Eight. The Lakers avenge their only loss of the season and reach the Final Four for the second straight year. They will play in the national semifinals on Thursday, December 12.
Head coach Jeff Hosler on his team's resilient win in Sunday's Elite Eight road match:
Head coach Jeff Hosler on his team's resilient win in Sunday's Elite Eoght road match: pic.twitter.com/awz3PD3O53— GVSU Soccer (@GVSUsoccer) December 8, 2019
Ava Cook led the way with a hat-trick to separate herself as the national leader in goals and points on the season while Riko Sagara scored twice and Makenna Schoolman provided a pair of assists. A Schoolman throw in set up Cook at the top of the box in the 14' for a great turn and strike to beat the MSU keeper and put the Lakers in front.
Ava Cook stepped up big with a hat-trick to punch the Lakers ticket to Pittsburgh. Here she is after the match: pic.twitter.com/PRFyHLMU8J— GVSU Soccer (@GVSUsoccer) December 8, 2019
That combination would strike again in the 32' when Schoolman slid a pass from the corner in front of goal for Cook to one-time home and double the lead. Just five minutes later, Kennedy Bearden centered a ball in tight to the net and Sagara banged home the redirect into the upper 90 to add to the lead before half. Sagara would score just three minutes out of break as well, depositing a free kick from the top of the box into the corner net to make it 4-0 Lakers.
The Mavericks found a rhythm with a pair of quick goals off corners around the 65' mark, scoring twice in 30 seconds of game time. With the crowd climbing back into it and the momentum starting to shift, Cook returned to the field and promptly willed herself in behind the defense to sink the dagger in the 79' and give the Lakers the extra boost they needed to coast to the Final Four.
The Final Four teams will consist of GVSU, Flagler (Southeast), St. Rose (East) and Western Washington (West). The teams will be reseeded for the national semifinals with the top seed facing the 4-seed and the 2-seed and 3-seed facing off. GVSULakers.com and @GVSUSoccer will have updates on seeding, opponents, times and full coverage of the trip to Pittsburgh as the Lakers' quest for a sixth national title reaches the final destination.