by Alan Babbitt
The Hope College men's soccer team answered one quick strike from nationally ranked Calvin University, but a second equalizer proved elusive.
Goals early in each half propelled the Knights past the Flying Dutchmen, 3-1, in Tuesday's Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association opener in front of a Van Andel Soccer Stadium crowd of 1,106.
The Flying Dutchmen's record fell to 7-5 overall.
Hope's next match is Saturday, October 12 at Kalamazoo College. Kickoff is 5 p.m.
Forward Alec Belcastro scored for the Flying Dutchmen.
The sophomore from Washington, Pennsylvania (Kiski School) netted his team-leading seventh goal of the season after he buried a cross from freshman defender Jackson Strabel of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Kentwood) 5:58 into the first half.
Belcastro answered Calvin's goal from Sam Twigg 1:24 into the first half.
The score remained tied through halftime. The Knights (12-1 overall) struck again quickly after the second half kicked off as Twigg set up Justin Wojcik for the go-ahead goal 124 seconds into the period.
Hope, which nearly matched Calvin with 11 shots taken, produced several scoring chances during the second half but could not convert.
Calvin put the match away with 78 seconds remaining on a breakaway goal.
"We've been pretty dangerous in the flank this year. We've produced a lot of chances that way," head coach Dave Brandt said of Belcastro's goal. "We haven't always finished them, and we didn't finish some of them tonight. It could have been a different story tonight had we done it.
"I thought our guys played well tonight. Giving up a goal in the first few minutes of each half is just a combination of being a little bit affected and intimidated and not high enough level of concentration, but otherwise I'm happy with the way the guys played."