Women's Soccer Heats Up Quickly, Earns Purple Community Victory

Rachel Braginton advances upfield at Van Andel Soccer Stadiu. by Alan Babbitt

Head coach Leigh Sears wondered how her Hope College women's soccer team would respond to an unfamiliar opponent following a demanding effort against a ranked team earlier in the week.

The 15th-ranked Flying Dutch were up for the challenge.

Hope struck first against Capital (Ohio) University on Saturday and never trailed en route to a 3-1 Purple Community victory. The Flying Dutch improved to 4-0-1 overall by avoiding a potential letdown following a 1-1 tie at third-ranked University of Chicago on Wednesday.

"This week was huge. I'm really proud of what we did," Sears said. "I was nervous about a Chicago hangover. I asked them 'Who's ever heard of Capital?' Two hands went up. They're a good team. They finished second in their conference. I'm glad we survived."

Hope wore purple jerseys Saturday in honor of loved ones impacted by cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. All proceeds will benefit Van Andel Institute and help fund a summer internship for a Hope College student to perform research in a Van Andel Institute laboratory.

List of those honored on Purple Community jerseys by Hope women's soccer players

Photo of Rachel Braginton by Tom Renner

The Flying Dutch started fast against Capital (3-1-0). Senior Hilary Curry of Grandville, Michigan (Calvin Christian) struck 5 minutes, 37 seconds into the match with her second goal of the season. Junior Abbey Prezkop of Novi, Michigan (Bloomfield Hills Mercy) recorded the assist.

In the 23rd minute,  junior Megan Bigelow of Flushing, Michigan (Flushing) netted the first of her two goals of the game and the season. Senior Eliza Beird of Holland, Michigan (Black River) assisted on the goal that put Hope ahead 2-0.

Capital answered 10 minutes later on Jordan Pike's sixth goal of the season, but the Crusaders could not record the equalizer before Bigelow scored again in the 79th minute.

"It's not her role," Sears said. "But we need goals from everywhere this year."

Hope outshot Capital by a 26-7 margin.

The Flying Dutch return to action on Tuesday, September 18 with a 7 p.m. match against Elmhurst College (Illinois).