by Alan Babbitt
Chances were few for the Hope College men's soccer team against a tough, disciplined opponent Saturday night.
Forward Alec Belcastro converted the shot the Flying Dutchmen needed for a 1-0 Community Day victory against Heidelberg University (Ohio) in front of a Van Andel Soccer Stadium crowd of 805.
The sophomore from Washington, Pennsylvania (Kiski School), pictured, took a pass from senior forward Logan Bylsma of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville HS) and buried a shot from 25 yards out 5 minutes, 22 seconds into the second half.
Hope (4-2 overall) made the goal stand up with its third shutout of the season.
"I thought they were a tough team to play against. They were well-organized. They had a plan," head coach Dave Brandt said of the Student Princes of Heidelberg. " At the same time, we missed two really good headball chances in the first half. Against a stingy defensive team like that — they have a history of that, they're good at it — if you don't bury those chances, then you ask for a really, really tight battle. That's what it was.
"To our credit, we hung in there and won the game, but it was a tough battle."
The Flying Dutchmen finished the non-league match with a 14-3 edge in shots, but quality scoring chances did not come easy.
Heidelberg goalkeeper Ryan Newman needed to make three saves in all — two more than Hope keeper Blair McCormick of Wadsworth, Illinois (Warren Township).
Belcastro's second goal of the season proved to be the difference against Heidelberg (1-3), which has now allowed only four goals so far this season.
The transfer from Army's West Point Academy is meshing quickly with the Flying Dutchmen in his first season.
"Alec has been one of my favorite players for a long time," Brandt said. "I've known Alec for 5-6 years, we go way back.I'm thrilled he's here playing for us. He's a huge credit to the team."'
Hope's next match is Friday, September 20 vs. Greenville University (Illinois) at Carthage College (Wisconsin).