by Alan Babbitt
The staunch defense of the 18th-ranked Hope College women's soccer team will be put to the test on Friday, November 17 in the third round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
No. 11-ranked and sectional host Christopher Newport University (Virginia) features one of the top goal scorers in the country.
The match begins at 7:30 p.m. in Newport News, Virginia. The winner advances to face either No. 2 Messiah College (Pennsylvania) or No. 17 University of Lynchburg (Virginia) on Saturday at 6 p.m. for a spot in the national semifinals.
Live video and stats links can be found at the top of the page.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Hope (16-2-2 overall) defeated Bridgewater College (Virginia) 1-0 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last weekend and host Otterbein College (Ohio) 2-1 in the second round. Rylie Dalton (two goals) and Corinne Cole (one goal) provided the offense.
Christopher Newport (19-1) downed the College of Staten Island (N.Y.) 10-1 in its postseason opener, then beat the University of Scranton (Pennsylvania) 2-0 in the second round. The Captains have tied their 2017 school record for wins in a single season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Hope. The Flying Dutch have outscored opponents by a 42-8 margin while spreading goal scoring around to 13 different players. Senior midfielder Rylie Dalton tops Hope with nine goals. Senior forward Hillary Curry is second with seven goals. 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 12 opponents this season. A sophomore, Ellingboe has been credited with 22 shutouts in her career — the second-most in team history.
Christopher report. Sophomore Riley Cook leads the Captains with 23 goals. She also has six assists. She has registered a point during CNU's current 14-match win streak. She also has scored a goal in nine consecutive matches. Senior midfielder and two-time Capital Area Conference Player of the Year Gabby Gillis has totaled 15 goals and nine assists. The Captains ranked fourth nationally in points per game and fifth in scoring offense. Sophomore goalie Haley Eiser anchors a defense that has yielded 11 goals this season.
MEET THE COACHES
Hope. Leigh Sears is in her 18th season leading the Flying Dutch. She has a career record of 226-110-26 at Hope and 266 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.
Christopher Newport. Dan Weiler is in his sixth season leading Christopher Newport. He owns an overall record of 95-18-9. Before joining the Captains, he spent 11 seasons at Concordia College (Minnesota) and posted a record of 144-58-24.