by Alan Babbitt
Rylie Dalton's hot foot continued for the Hope College women's soccer team and put the Flying Dutch on the verge of another Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship.
The senior from Rockford, Michigan (Rockford HS) scored for the third consecutive game Saturday during a 5-0 victory at Saint Mary's College.
The 18th-ranked Flying Dutch (12-1-2 overall) can clinch an outright MIAA title with a win at Alma College on Wednesday. They were outright champs in 2017 and co-champs in 2016.
"Our team goal from the beginning was to go one game at a time. Everyone wants a shot to be able to host games in the MIAA Tournament," head coach Leigh Sears said after her team improved to 6-0-1 in MIAA play.
Hope earned a first-round bye in the six-team MIAA Tournament. The Flying Dutch can finish no lower than second place. The semifinals are Wednesday, October 31 at a time to be announced.
Against Saint Mary's, Hope seized command early by jumping to a 4-0 halftime lead.
Dalton, pictured, opened the scoring 5 minutes, 25 seconds into the match after converting a pass from junior Megan Bigelow of Flushing, Michigan (Flushing) and senior Rachael Braginton of Grandville, Michigan (Grandville).
Dalton struck again eight minutes later on a give-and-go from Braginton.
Dalton now has seven goals this season and 25 for her career. She moved into sole possession of ninth place for career goals at Hope.
The Flying Dutch scored twice in a span of 104 seconds before halftime.
Junior Sarah McCoy of Stevensville, Michigan (Lake Michigan Catholic) delivered the first of her two goals in the match with eight minutes remaining in the half. Freshman Sarah Mikesell of Norton Shores, Michigan (Mona Shores) recorded the assist on McCoy's first goal of the season.
Mikesell came back 1:44 later with an unassisted goal — her fourth of the season.
McCoy scored 14:02 into the second half. Dalton and freshman Hannah Mitroff of Rochester, Michigan (Stoney Creek) each were credited with assists.
Hope outshot Saint Mary's (6-11, 1-6 MIAA) by a 29-4 margin. The Flying Dutch did not have to make a save.