Ferris junior defender leads Bulldogs to regional title soccer match

Tia VanSuilichem

BIG RAPIDS — It’s no secret which goal might be junior defender Tia VanSuilichem’s favorite since she joined the Ferris State women’s soccer program.

After a scoreless first half, the Bulldogs finally found the goal to break the tie in the NCAA Division II Tournament Second Round contest on Saturday. Early in the second half, VanSuilichem finished a ball cross-frame for her fifth goal of the season and the eventual game-winner over Ohio State.

“It was good movement in front of the goal,” Ferris coach Andy McCaslin said. “It was nice to get it in. She put it on frame and the keeper wasn’t able VanSuilichem to make a play.’

The win extended the school record single-season win mark to 17 as Ferris improved to 17-3-3 overall and head for the NCAA Regional Championship match Friday at Grand Valley.

The Bulldogs, under McCaslin, currently are at a school all-time best 17-3-3 overall to date this year.

VanSuilichem started 16 games and played in 17 in 2017. She finished with a pair of goals including the game-winning goal against Grand Valley State.

As a freshman for the Bulldogs in 2016, VanSuilichem started 18 games on defense and scored her lone goal of the season in game-winning fashion on Oct 21 against Saginaw Valley State.

At Caledonia High, she was a four-year letterwinner, was active in the student council and played club soccer for the Midwest United Club.

“Tia has great pace and exceptional closing speed as an outside back,” McCaslin said. “She has a great engine and can get forward to add into the attack which makes her dangerous on both sides of the ball.”

Ferris next game at Grand Valley is against a team that has beaten the Bulldogs.

“It’s really exciting,” VanSuilichem said. “This is the farthest our team has ever made it. Grand Valley is a really tough opponent. But we know them very well. We know how to play them. We’ll do what we do best. Every day we celebrate and have lot of fun we’ve made this far. We have a young team. We have a lot ahead of us too.”

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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