by Alan Babbitt
The Hope College women's soccer team kicks off the NCAA Division III Tournament with a first-round match against Bridgewater College (Virginia) on Friday, November 9 at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Links for live video and stats can be found at the top of the page.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Hope. The 18th-ranked Flying Dutch claimed an at-large berth to the national tournament after finishing as regular-season Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champions and runner-up in the MIAA Tournament. Hope went 14-2-2 during the regular season, including a 7-0-1 mark in MIAA matches that gave the Flying Dutch a third consecutive league title. This is Hope's third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and seventh overall.
Bridgewater. The Eagles earned their first postseason appearance in school history with an at-large berth. They posted a regular-season record of 15-3-1 and were part of a three-way tie for the Old Dominion Athletic Conference regular-season title with Randolph-Macon (Virginia) and Lynchburg (Virginia). Bridgewater lost to Virginia Wesleyan 1-0 in the semifinals of the OCAC Tournament.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Hope. The Flying Dutch have outscored opponents by a 39-7 margin while spreading goal scoring around to 12 different players. Senior forward Hillary Curry and senior midfielder Rylie Dalton top Hope with seven goals apiece. Dalton was named the MIAA's Most Valuable Player and was joined on the All-MIAA First Team by Curry and senior defender Eliza Beard. All-MIAA Second Team selections for the Flying Dutch are senior forward Grace Bubin, senior defender Morgan Buursma, and senior defender Kristen Marsman. Starting keeper Jordanne Ellingboe has helped Hope blank 11 opponents this season. A sophomore, Ellingboe has been credited with 21 shutouts in her career — the second-most in team history.
Bridgewater. On offense, the Eagles have a balanced lineup that has outscored opponents by a 61-13 margin without any one player having more than eight goals. Sophomore forward Hunter Collier and freshman midfielder Hanna Randolph share the team lead with 21 points. Collier has eight goals and five assists, while Randolph has seven goals and seven assists. Junior midfielder Catherine Haufe is tied with Collier with eight goals. Senior forward Bailey Kratz has seven goals. On defense, sophomore goalie Sydney Davis is the anchor of a group that also has shut out 11 opponents this season.
MEET THE COACHES
Hope. Leigh Sears is in her 18th season leading the Flying Dutch. She has a career record of 224-110-26 at Hope and 264 wins to her credit that includes a six-season stint at Marietta College (Ohio). She has guided the Flying Dutch to postseason play in four of the past five seasons and a school-record 19 wins during the 2017 season.
Bridgewater. Mike Van Horn is in his 11th season with the Eagles and has led them to a 133-71-12 record. Bridgewater has recorded 10 consecutive winning seasons.
Leigh Sears says of Bridgewater, "We know they're pretty fast and dynamic. I think our team can handle their speed. The key is communicating and passing off your player to a teammate. We talk about being a patient defender. Their goalie is really athletic. We have a little more size. Hopefully, we can use that on some set pieces or corners."
The Hope-Bridgewater match will advance to a second-round match on Saturday, November 10 against either Otterbein or Dominican University (Illinois).