Before an 11 game win streak that took Grand Valley State into the MCLA national tournament as the top seed, the Lakers started the 2014 season with two losses – first to St. John’s and then against St. Thomas. Yesterday GVSU avenged the St. Thomas loss with a 10-5 semifinal win, and Saturday they will have a chance to gain another rematch victory in the championship game against No. 2 St. John’s.
Outside of this season’s games between the three schools, Grand Valley State also has a storied postseason history with the two Minnesota powerhouses. In last year’s national tournament, Grand Valley State lost to St. John’s in the quarterfinals. The year before that, St. Thomas beat GVSU by one goal in the championship game. St. Thomas has won four MCLA national championship, but neither the Lakers or the Johnnies have ever won a title.
When asked about the history between the teams and the opportunity to defeat both opponents that the Lakers lost to this year, Grand Valley State head coach Tim Murray said that he doesn’t “see it as a rematch because we are different teams than we were at the beginning of the year.”
In Grand Valley State’s semifinal, the first half was a back and forth affair that saw a 3-3 tie after one quarter and a 5-5 tie at half. The second half was all Lakers, though, as they scored five goals and held St. Thomas scoreless to win 10-5 and earn the rematch with St. John’s for a chance at the title.
St. John’s also won in a rematch semifinal game, having lost to No. 3 Dayton by one goal in late March. In yesterday’s game, the Johnnies staved off a late Flyer run that made it a two goal game with 5:45 left. St. John’s scored the final three goals of the game for a 14-9 win.
“I’m close friends with [St. John's head coach] Derek Daehn and that program,” Murray said. “There are two people you never want to lose to: your worst enemies and your best friends, but we hope to come away with a championship on Saturday.”
(This article was also published on MCLA.us)