by Eva Dean Folkert
Opening a season with two wins is a good sign for any team. Opening a season with two wins against ranked opponents is a great sign for Hope College women's soccer.
The Flying Dutch are holders of a 2-0 record after defeating #5 Ohio Northern University, 1-0, in overtime on Saturday in Bloomington, Illinois. Hope also beat host and #23 Illinois Wesleyan University, 2-1, the day before. Together, the wins have given Hope a start that head coach Leigh Sears knew would be challenging but not impossible.
"We played so much better today than yesterday," Sears said. "These two wins are huge. Beating two ranked teams when you're unranked is just what we needed. I don't think our league gets a lot of respect, and that's fine. We just got to do stuff like this to set ourselves up to get ranked and to be noticed."
Against ONU, Hope played the Polar Bears a tad more than evenly. For 90 minutes, the teams were scoreless with few shots on goal; the Flying Dutch had four and the Polar Bears took one.
Hope's defense did an outstanding, exhaustive job of sticking with ONU's long-ball offense. Regulation ended with a 0-0 tie.
"Once in each half, we had a scramble in front of their goal that we just couldn't put in," said Sears, "so we had some opportunities. And they had one great opportunity that they missed too. The game was fairly back and forth… Again, this was just a huge, important win for us."
Sophomore goalie Jordan Ellingboe of Grand Haven (Grand Haven) is credited with the shutout. She had one save.