by Eva Dean Folkert
The second half was the better half for the #13 nationally-ranked Hope College women's soccer team on Tuesday night, and the first seven minutes were the very best of it.
Between the 46:07 and the 52:39 marks, the Flying Dutch broke open the 0-0 tie that stood at halftime with Elmhurst College (Illinois) and scored three goals delivered by three different seniors. Before the final horn at Van Andel Soccer Stadium, another Hope goal was added, and the Flying Dutch shut out the Blue Jays with a final score of 4-0 in a non-league match.
Hope's record now stands at 5-0-1. Elmhurst (5-1-1) took their first loss of the season.
The first half between Hope and Elmhurst was fairly evenly played, often at midfield between the two boxes. In the first 45 minutes, Hope owned a slight advantage in shots on goal, 4-2.
But when the second half started, the Flying Dutch looked like a refreshed team. So, what was the halftime speech that Coach Leigh Sears gave her team that made the proverbial light bulb shine?
"(Elmhurst) came with a really good game plan and the way they were playing us, they were all just sitting behind the ball and we were slow to move to it and they would just shift behind," Sears explained. "They were just happy to keep us in front and work. So at halftime I said, "We can get frustrated, or we can solve the problem. If what we're doing isn't working, what do we do?" That's it. They figured it out."
Senior Rachael Braginton of Grandville (Grandville HS) put Hope on the scoreboard first with a goal scored in traffic off an assist sent by senior Hilary Curry of Grand Rapids (Grandville Calvin Christian). Two minutes and 23 seconds later, senior Lindsay Kooy of Metamora (Flint Powers Catholic) lofted a strike to the right top corner of the goal off a senior Kristen Marsman assist. The early-half scoring barrage ended 2 ½ minutes later when Curry scored on a penalty kick after Elmhurst was called for a hand-ball in the box.
Braginton ended Hope's scoring for the game with an unassisted goal at 75:17. It was her fourth goal of the young season and her second multi-goal game.
While it was seniors who supplied 100 percent of the scoring, Sears recognized those players who set them up, feeding them the ball before the assist and score. Like freshman Caroline Burkhardt of Louisville, Kentucky (Martha Layne Collins HS), pictured left.
"She's just solid and steady and when we put her in a game, there's not much of a dropoff," said Sears of Burkhardt. "She should be defensive center but we've put her at attacking center-mid and she's just so good on the ball. A really good first touch. Sometimes when things aren't going well, we put her in there and for a freshman to calm me down and start making connections, she's just done a really really good job (of that)."
Hope did not allow Elmhurst a single shot in the second half. The Flying Dutch finished with 22 shots, 14 on goal.
Sophomore goalie Jordanne Ellingboe of Grand Haven (Grand Haven HS) recorded two saves and was credited with her third shutout of the season.
The Flying Dutch head back on the road again and play John Carroll University (Ohio) at 12 noon on Saturday, Sept. 22.