by Alan Babbitt
Head coach Leigh Sears encouraged her Hope College women's soccer team to be in a foul mood on the field this week.
The Flying Dutch heeded the call. Inspired, Hope put together one of its best efforts of the season and almost upset one of the top teams in NCAA Division III Tuesday night before falling to eighth-ranked Wheaton College (Illinois), 3-2, at Van Andel Soccer Stadium.
Hope (1-3-5 overall) led twice and nearly overcame playing a woman down the final 66 minutes, 19 seconds of the non-league match.
"We've been waiting for this," Sears said. "We told them before the (Wheaton) scouting report, 'You should be mad. We're not playing as well as we should be. It's OK to get ticked off, come out and play angry. They did.
"We played with just a ton of effort. I told them (afterward) if this team keeps showing up, we'll be fine. We played hard. We played well a woman down."
Wheaton (9-1-1) outshot the Flying Dutch by a 19-6 margin. The Thunder scored the go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute after Tori Seeland headed in a cross from Sara Bakke.
In the 60th minute, Wheaton tied the score at 2-2 after Aeva Graber's high-arching shot from the sideline tucked just underneath the crossbar in the far corner of the goal. A failed clearing attempt gave the Thunder possession.
Hope grabbed a 2-1 lead 2 ½ minutes into the second half when freshman defender Erin Powers of Norton Shores, Michigan (Mona Shores HS) launched a direct kick from 45 yards away into the net.
The Flying Dutch and Thunder traded first-half goals in a span of 68 seconds.
Freshman forward Cassidy Broekhuizen of Byron Center, Michigan (Grand Rapids South Christian) gave Hope a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute with her first goal of the season. The Flying Dutch had played to scoreless draws in their previous two matches.
Wheaton took the kickoff and answered quickly on a shot of Sarah Tomich. On the play, sophomore defender Anneliese Lockner of Geneva, Illinois (Geneva Community) was red-carded for an intentional handball in the box during a scoring chance and had to leave the game.