by Alan Babbitt
It was rainy. It was windy. It was a miserable night to play for the Hope College men's soccer team.
It was a successful one, though.
The Flying Dutchmen overcame their own early sloppiness on Saturday, clamping down defensively in the second half and earning a 6-2 victory against Trine University at Van Andel Soccer Stadium.
Combined with Kalamazoo College's 1-0 loss to Calvin University, the Flying Dutchmen clinched a first-round bye for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament.
Hope (12-5 overall, 5-1 MIAA) is in second place in the league standings. The Flying Dutchmen are five points ahead of third-place Kalamazoo and Adrian College with one regular-season match remaining.
Against Trine, senior forward Logan Bylsma of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville HS) led by the Flying Dutchmen's second highest-scoring game of the season by recording his second hat trick at Van Andel Soccer Stadium. He previously accomplished the feat on October 9, 2018 against Olivet College.
Byslma, pictured, leads Hope with 12 goals this season.
The Flying Dutchmen also received goals from sophomore forward Alec Belcastro of Washington, Pennsylvania (Kiski School), sophomore defender Ryan Flynn of Bloomington, Illinois (Bloomington) and freshman defender Jackson Strabel of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Kentwood).
Belcastro reached the double-digit mark in goals with his 10th of the season.
Despite its leading goal scorers, Belcastro and Bylsma, leading the first-half attack, Hope held a one-goal lead at halftime, 3-2.
Bylsma's third goal came with 1 minute, 42 seconds left in the first half and snapped a 2-2 tie. He scored 2 ½ minutes after Trine capitalized on a Flying Dutchmen turnover near midfield and struck with a Nooh Aljabaly fastbreak goal.
In the second half, Hope yielded only one of Trine's six shots for the match.
The Flying Dutchmen registered 18 shots — 10 in the first half and eight after halftime.
Belcastro opened the second-half scoring in the 52nd minute when he scored directly off of a corner kick.
Strabel and Flynn put in rebounds in the 58th and 73rd minutes, respectively. It was Strabel's first of the season and Flynn's fifth.
Hope's next game is Wednesday, October 30 at Adrian College. Kickoff is 7 p.m.