by Alan Babbitt
Rachael Braginton made sure a return to the alma mater of Hope College women's soccer coach Leigh Sears was a successful one.
The senior from Grandville, Michigan (Grandville HS) equaled her career-high with two goals and set a career mark with two assists in a 4-0 Flying Dutch victory at Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday in Delaware, Ohio.
Hope improved to 3-0 on the season.
As a collegian, Sears, pictured at right, was a three-sport standout at Ohio Wesleyan University. She was an all-conference player in the North Coast Athletic Conference in three sports — soccer, basketball, and track.
In her senior year in soccer, Sears was voted the Ohio and conference player of the year and achieved All-America recognition as a midfielder. In 1998, she was inducted into the Ohio Wesleyan University Athletic Hall of Fame.
Braginton, pictured at left, set up senior Rylie Dalton of Rockford, Michigan (Rockford) for the game's first goal. Dalton connected from 30 yards out from the far right with 7 ½ minutes remaining in the first half.
Braginton headed in her first goal of the season for a 2-0 lead four minutes later off a pass from senior Eliza Beird of Holland, Michigan (Black River).
Nearly 10 minutes into the second half, Braginton struck again. She headed in a corner kick from Beird for her 21st career goal — putting her 11th all-time in the Flying Dutch record book.
Braginton assisted nine minutes later on the first goal of the season for freshman Sarah Mikesell of Norton Shores, Michigan (Mona Shores).
Hope outshot Ohio Wesleyan by a 24-8 margin.
Goalie Jordanne Ellingboe of Grand Haven, Michigan (Grand Haven) needed to make only two saves against Ohio Wesleyan (1-1-1).