by Eva Dean Folkert
Logan Bylsma, pictured, must have had a premonition going into overtime of the Hope College men's soccer game on Saturday night. After 90 minutes of scoreless play against Illinois Wesleyan University at Van Andel Soccer Stadium, the senior captain from Hudsonville (Hudsonville HS) had a quick talk with freshman midfielder Nic Kubert of Rochester Hills (Avondale HS), the contents of which would unfold one minute and 17 seconds later.
"I told Nic before we started OT, 'Hey, if you look up and can play it across early, I'll get in behind a defender.'"
And that's exactly what happened: Kubert looked up early, lifted a pass up the middle from the wing to Bylsma who got in the way of the ball and the defender, touched it once and fired the ball into the bottom left side of the goal from about 30 feet. "I just had to slot it past the keeper, and that's what I did," he said.
With that goal in the 92nd minute, the Flying Dutchmen snapped a two-game losing streak by defeating the Titans, 1-0, in a non-league match.
"We've had a couple of rough games, and we really need this one as a team to show that we're resilient and can finish the season strong," Bylsma reflected shortly after his entire team stormed the field and swarmed him. "And it's just kind of a fitting ending, just the way we played and battled and fought till the end."
Hope, 6-4 on the season, returns to action on Wednesday, October 2 when the Flying Dutchmen host Alma College at 7 p.m. in Van Andel Soccer Stadium. The match will not count toward the MIAA standings.
Against Illinois Wesleyan, the Flying Dutchmen controlled much of the momentum for the game, owning a 15-to-8 advantage on shots and a 7-to-5 advantage on corner kicks. Still, a regular-time goal eluded them. Hope had five shots on goal.
Senior goalie Blair McCormick of Wadsworth, Illinois (Warren Township HS) made three saves against IWU.