Cardinals set for Sweet Sixteen clash with Lakers

Cardinals set for Sweet Sixteen clash with Lakers

UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – For the first time in program history, the Saginaw Valley State University women's soccer season has reached the month of December.

The Cardinals won their first two games of the 2021 NCAA DII National Tournament two weeks ago in Ashland, Ohio, earning a spot in the Midwest Regional Final for the first time. The No. 6 seed Cardinals travel to No. 1 seed Grand Valley State University for the Sweet Sixteen matchup at 2 pm Friday in Allendale, Mich.

The Matchup:

Game Facts:

  • The Sweet Sixteen appearance is the first for SVSU women's soccer. The Cardinals have appeared in three previous national tournaments (2009, 2014, 2018), with the prior best showing coming in 2014 when SVSU reached the round of 32.
  • The Lakers, the top-ranked team in the nation heading into the 2021 National Tournament, have reached the NCAA postseason in every season since 2003.
  • GVSU has six national titles including the last one in 2019 (the 2020 national tournament was canceled due to COVID-19).
  • The winner of the SVSU and GVSU matchup will play in the Elite Eight against the winner of the Central Region Final between Bemidji State and Central Missouri.

Leaders:

  • SVSU has been led by a pair of record-setting fresh faces this season, including freshman forward Stephanie Strong. The Howell, Mich., native has scored a program-record 14 goals so far this season. She was named the GLIAC Freshman of the Year last month.
  • In goal for SVSU, senior transfer Olivia Argeros has been a difference-maker for the Cardinals. She set a new program record this season for shutouts and has 12 going into the matchup with the Lakers. Argeros is the 2021 GLIAC Goalkeeper of the Year.
  • Greta DeLoach has led the Laker offense this season with a GLIAC high of 19 goals, including seven game-winners and 43 points. She was named the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Senior Cecilia Steinwascher was named the GLIAC Defensive Player of the Year for the Lakers. She contributed to 14 GVSU shutouts this season and had a GLIAC-best 10 assists.

How the Teams Got Here:

  • The Cardinals entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed and were paired with a familiar foe, No. 3 seed Ferris State University, the 2021 GLIAC Tournament Champion. The Cardinals battled to a scoreless draw through 110 minutes, setting up a shootout, which Argeros dominated and SVSU won 3-0. In the second round, the Cardinals won a back-and-forth matchup with No. 7 seed Drury University, as Gabby Green scored the game-winner in OT off a free-kick.
  • After winning the GLIAC Regular Season Championship, GVSU earned a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region for the NCAA Tournament. The Lakers were pushed to overtime in the opening round by No. 8 seed Cedarville University but escaped with a 2-1 win. GVSU jumped all over the University of Indianapolis in the second round with four goals in the first half on its way to a 5-0 win.

The Series:

  • The Cardinals last beat the Lakers in 2004, with a 3-2 overtime win against GVSU at home. The Lakers lead the overall series with the Cardinals 27-1-4.
  • SVSU had GVSU on the ropes through the first half in the only matchup between the conference foes earlier this season at home. After the Lakers went ahead in the second half 2-1, Reegan Kingpavong scored a brilliant goal on a header in the 84th minute to tie the game for the Cardinals. GVSU came through with the game-winner in the 89th minute to escape with the win.