Grand Valley women’s soccer coach quits after guiding Lakers to national title

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Grand Valley State University’s women’s soccer team will have a new coach when the Lakers begin defending their title next fall.

Jim Conlon, who led the Lakers to their seventh NCAA Division II national championship last fall, has announced his resignation, effective at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

“Due to unforeseen mental health issues with my family, I have made the incredibly difficult decision to leave Grand Valley State,” Conlon said in a statement. “I’ve had an incredible experience working at this university and working with exceptional young women, coaches and administrators. I will always cherish the relationships I have made and cherish the experience and memories of my short stay here.

“This program is special, and I’m thrilled to see it continue to grow in the future and I’m proud to be a part of its legacy.”

Grand Valley finished 24-1-2 and won its 15th consecutive GLAC Regular Season Championship. The Lakers claimed the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, roared throughout the tournament and beat St. Rose 3-2 in double overtime in the national championship game in Colorado Springs. It was Grand Valley’s second consecutive title.

The Lakers led the entire NCAA in shutouts this season with 18. Cecilia Steinwascher earned United’s Football Coaches’ National Player of the Year award and her fourth consecutive unanimous first-team All-America status. Steinwascher was also named a CoSIDA Academic All-America and is a Honda Football Award runner-up. The Lakers had three unanimous All-Americans for the season in Steinwascher, Greta DeLoach and Abby Willerer.

“We deeply appreciate what Jim Conlon brought to our program last fall,” said GVSU athletic director Keri Becker. “To arrive four days before the start of the season and culminate it with a national championship speaks volumes about his ability to assemble a team, coach the football and develop a culture of resilience. We are disappointed to lose him but respect his decision to put his family above all else. »

Conlon is a Chicago native who coached at the University of Washington before coming to Grand Valley. He guided Washington to an NCAA Division III national championship in 2016.

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