by Eva Dean Folkert
Almost everything was opposite for the No. 17-ranked Hope College women's soccer team when they played Albion College for the second time this season. Almost everything except the outcome.
Two weeks ago in the regular season, the Flying Dutch waited until the very end of double overtime to shut out the Britons, 1-0, under cold, rainy skies.
On Wednesday, on a quintessential autumn evening in Van Andel Soccer Stadium, Hope capitalized early and more often and beat Albion, 3-1, in the MIAA Tournament semifinal.
The result moves top-seeded Hope onto the league tournament final to play second-seeded Adrian College. The Bulldogs were 3-0 winners over Calvin College in the other MIAA semifinal played at Adrian.
The MIAA championship kicks off on Saturday, November 3 at Van Andel Soccer Stadium at 12 p.m.
The Flying Dutch started scoring in the first half with a nifty goal at the 20:44 mark. A hustling Hilary Curry saved the ball from going out of bounds on the end line to the left of Albion's goal. The senior from Grand Rapids (Grandville Calvin Christian) beautifully executed a high, backward kick crossed in front of the box and the assist was headed in for an early score by senior Rachael Braginton of Grandville (Grandville HS).
That was the only goal in the first 45 minutes, though Hope dominated the shots-taken stat line, 16-2.
"Last time we played, Albion tried to slow everything down and we just got sucked into it," said head coach Leigh Sears. "So, this time we said we're going to make them play at our pace. Play faster. We definitely played way faster in the first half. It would have been nice to capitalize on a couple more of those (shots) in the first half. But thank goodness for two extra goals in the second half to seal it."
The first of those second-half goals came on a penalty kick at 49:28 by senior Grace Bubin of Rockford (Rockford HS) after she sent down in the box. Her direct strike rose up over the outstretched hands of Albion goalie Megan Bricely at the center-top of the goal, making it a 2-0 game.
Hope's third goal was the product of two Flying Dutch defenders getting in on some offensive action. At 60:43, senior defender Eliza Beird of Holland (Black River HS) sent an assist to senior defender Morgan Buursma of Grandville (Grandville Calvin Christian) who scored Hope's final goal.
Albion got their lone goal when Riley Burnette broke out to score unassisted at the 84:16 mark.
For the game, Hope spent much of their time on Albion's side of the field and outshot the Britons, 24-6, with a 14-4 advantage in shots on goal.
Sophomore keeper Jordanne Ellingboe of Grand Haven (Grand Haven HS) made three saves.