For half an hour on Thursday, the Columbus State (Ga.) women’s soccer team put a dynasty on its collective heels. It unleashed a flurry of shots, owned a significant advantage in possession and held three-time defending champion Grand Valley State (Mich.) without a shot.
In an NCAA Division II women’s soccer semifinal match, Columbus State secured a reason for optimism.
But the three-time defending champions are marching on nonetheless.
Grand Valley State overcame an inauspicious start and defeated Columbus State 3-0 in the NCAA Division II semifinals on Thursday at Swope Soccer Village. The game was a re-match of the 2015 championship.
In pursuit of its fourth straight national title, Grand Valley State, 23-1-1, will meet Western Washington for the championship at 3 p.m. Saturday at Swope Soccer Village. Western Washington topped Kutztown (Pa.) 3-0 in Thursday’s other semifinal.
“Every journey is different, but it’s those same butterflies in your stomach knowing you’re going to a national championship game,” said Grand Valley State midfielder Marti Corby, who scored twice on Thursday.
Corby scored once before halftime and once more in the second half, her 11th and 12th goals of the season, before forward Kendra Stauffer iced the game in the 82nd minute. Grand Valley sophomore keeper Jennifer Steinaway made seven saves in her 15th shutout of the season. She has allowed only six goals in 25 starts.
Grand Valley State has not conceded a first-half goal all season.
“How awesome is our defense?” Corby said. “Not letting in a goal, especially when they were pounding us at first — they allowed us to stay hopeful and keep us in the game.”
Indeed, Columbus State, 21-3, dictated the early pace before Corby opened the scoring in the 38th minute. Grand Valley State did not even attempt a shot in the opening 33 minutes — while Columbus State had already recorded eight — but Corby scored on a rebound after Gabriella Mencotti’s initial shot was cleared off the line.
Corby doubled her goal total and doubled the lead in the 53rd minute, a 15-yard dribbler that beat Columbus State keeper Maylyn Parsons, who had preceded the sequence with a pair of point-blank saves. Parsons made four saves in the game.
“I thought (Corby) was really dominant in the midfield for those second 45 minutes,” Grand Valley State coach Jeff Hosler said.
Columbus State had its share of opportunities to break the shutout. Defender Hugrun Elvarsdottir clanked a shot off the crossbar in the 79th minute, and midfielder Cassandra Wade hit the crossbar in the 86th minute. In all, Columbus State pulled the trigger on 19 shots.
“If we wanna win, we have to be efficient and we have to score,” Columbus State sophomore Brooke Nail said. “Early goals shut down teams, so if we could’ve gotten an early goal, the entire game could’ve been totally different.”