by Alan Babbitt
Thirty-one years ago, Michael Schanhals played in the first Hope College-Calvin College men's lacrosse game.
Wednesday night, the first Hope-Calvin MIAA Tournament game carried the same nerves and excitement for him.
"I told the guys that at lunch today, the hairs were standing up on the back of my neck. This one is always a really exciting night for me," Schanhals said.
Attacker Rocco Mularoni, pictured, and the Flying Dutchmen rewarded their coach with a 15-3 semifinal victory at home - their second Rivalry victory of the season.
Hope (13-3 overall) advanced to host Saturday's 7 p.m. title match against Albion College (8-8), an 11-10 semifinal winner against Alma College on Wednesday.
This is the Flying Dutchmen's second appearance in a row, and all-time, in an MIAA Tournament championship game. Hope lost to Albion in last season's final.
Hope defeated Albion, 9-8 in overtime, on April 23 and went on to repeat as regular-season MIAA champion.
Against Calvin, the Flying Dutchmen never trailed after grabbing a 4-0 lead during the first quarter.
Mularoni scored Hope's third and third goals. The junior attacker from Hartland, Michigan (Detroit Catholic Central HS) leads the Flying Dutchmen in scoring with 37 goals.
Radzville's four goals topped Hope. Mularoni added three assists over the final three quarters.
The Flying Dutchmen outshot Calvin (10-8 overall) by a 52-19 margin.
Schanhals was proud of how his team played from the opening faceoff.
"We knew we had to be focused, dialed in. That's an explosive team. They've done a nice job of putting runs together all year," Schanhals said. "They can do some things in transition sometimes and feed off of that. We wanted to make sure we worked hard for that and tried to stop that.
"And, we were putting our shots in. We were moving the ball really well, especially in the first half."