by Alan Babbitt
Most Valuable Player Rylie Dalton headlines a group of six Hope College women's soccer players to claim All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association honors for the 2018 season.
The MIAA champion Flying Dutch received first-team selections from the league's coaches, pictured in top row, from left: Dalton as a midfielder, Eliza Beird as a defender, and Hilary Curry as a forward.
All six of the Flying Dutch's All-MIAA players are seniors and are part of a large group that propelled Hope to its third consecutive league championship with a 7-0-1 MIAA record.
"I am proud of all 12 of our seniors," head coach Leigh Sears said. "They have worked hard to come together as one voice and set the standards very high this year. We were lucky enough to get six seniors on both first and second all-conference."
Dalton is the Flying Dutch's fifth MIAA MVP. The senior from Rockford, Michigan (Rockford HS) joins an elite group of MVPs that includes Elizabeth Perkins (2016), Allison VanBeek (2008), Dawn Gillam (2004), and Tina Gill DeKam (1996).
Dalton totaled four goals and one assist during eight matches. She shared the league-high with three game-winning goals against conference opponents.
"I am so proud of Rylie and the work she put in," Sears said. "She came back her senior year with a determination and focus to get things done. She came in top shape ready to play and a quiet confidence while still being her fun-loving self. She has great vision and can find the open player, but when the pressure is on she finds a way to score game-winning goals."
Curry shared the team-lead with four goals in MIAA play. The senior from Grand Rapids, Michigan (Calvin Christian) also had two assists in league matches.
"Hilary has had to put the needs of the team above her own this year. She is a center midfielder, but we needed her up top due to her dangerous left foot and skill level. She certainly delivered," Sears said. "She scored multiple goals and provided many assists throughout the season and was always a force on the left side. The coaches in the conference thought enough of her skill up top to put her on the first team. That speaks a great deal to her ability to play multiple positions."
Beird played an integral role in a defense that shut out seven of eight MIAA opponents and yielded only one goal in MIAA play.
"Eliza had been starting her entire career. The defense came together last year and she is part of the reason we have had all of those shutouts," Sears said. "She has a dangerous throw in, takes corner kicks as well as restarts and is a leader by example. She has a tremendous work rate and the intensity of the back line."
Teaming with Beird on the backline were Buursma and Marsman. In the past two seasons, Hope has recorded shutouts in 20 of 24 league matches and allowed only four goals combined.
Buursma is from Grandville, Michigan (Calvin Christian). Marsman is from Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian).
"Morgan and Kristen know each other so well and are able to read each other to provide that solid back," Sears said. "They have been a steady and calming presence."
Bubin contributed four assists during MIAA matches, including a Van Andel Soccer Stadium record-tying three against Trine University. The senior from Rockford, Michigan (Rockford HS) was a first-team selection as a junior.
"Grace has changed roles from goal scorer to assist provider," Sears said. "She works very hard on the outside and puts great pressure on the defender. She has the ability to turn the corner and provide a solid service."