Lakers claim seventh soccer national championship
Story written by Tom Cleary
Kennedy Bearden fired home her second goal of the game in the second overtime period December 11 in Colorado to lift Grand Valley to a dramatic 3-2 win over Saint Rose (N.Y.) in the 2021 Division II soccer national championship game.
The victory gave first-year head coach Jim Conlon and his players GVSU's seventh national championship as they defended the title they won back in 2019.
Bearden started the scoring and staked the Lakers to a 1-0 lead, which they held until early in the second half. After Saint Rose tied the score at 1-1, Lakers' senior captain Cecilia Steinwascher put Grand Valley ahead 2-1 with a little under 20 minutes to play in regulation time. But Saint Rose tied the score just three minutes later, forcing the first of two overtime sessions.
After neither team scored in the first overtime, Bearden settled the issue with her third goal of the Final 4 to give Grand Valley the title. It marked the second straight Division II championship game in which a Laker scored an overtime winner following Gianna Parlove's goal in Pittsburgh in 2019 against Western Washington. (There was no national tournament played in 2020 due to the pandemic.)
Grand Valley finished the season with just one loss to mark an incredible first season under Conlon, who took over when Jeff Hosler left last summer to become the women's soccer coach at Michigan State. Formerly the head coach at Division III Washington University in Missouri, Conlon now has guided teams to national titles in both Division II and Division III.
The win also continues Grand Valley's domination in women's Division II soccer, as its seventh championship is the most of any school in Division II history.
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