by Alan Babbitt
MeKenna VanKoevering called for the soccer ball to be dropped back to her. She recognized a familiar opportunity — something she and her Hope College teammates had been practicing.
The junior from Zeeland, Michigan (Hudsonville Unity Christian HS) ripped off a right-footed shot from just inside the penalty area and launched it through a narrow spot between the opposing goalkeeper and left goal post.
VanKoevering's first collegiate goal propelled the Flying Dutch to a 1-0 victory against Michigan Intercollegiate-Athletic Association-leading Adrian College on Saturday at Van Andel Soccer Stadium.
Hope (5-3-6 overall, 4-0-2 MIAA) knocked Adrian into second place in the MIAA standings and moved within two points of new league-leader Kalamazoo College (5-6-3, 4-1-1 MIAA).
"I saw a bunch of space and took my time," Van Koevering said. "I said, 'Give it a chance to be on net.' I came out with a goal. It was amazing."
VanKoevering, pictured, scored 17 minutes, 1 seconds into the first half off an assist from senior forward Abbey Przekip of Novi, Michigan (Farmington Hills Mercy).
"I was in line behind her," head coach Leigh Sears said. "We've been working on it in practice. If you're here on the field, here's where you try to put it. Textbook. It was awesome."
The match was the third one in a row between Hope and Adrian decided by one goal. The Flying Dutch won, 1-0, at Adrian during the 2018 regular season. The Bulldogs won, 1-0, at Van Andel Soccer Stadium in the 2018 MIAA Tournament championship match.
Adrian and Hope also played to a scoreless tie during the second meeting of the 2017 season.
Goalie Jordanne Ellingboe of Grand Haven, Michigan (Grand Haven HS) made two saves for Hope's eighth shutout of the season.
Both teams finished with seven shots. Adrian fell to 11-4-2 overall and 4-1 in MIAA play.
Ellingboe's 29 career shutouts are the second-most in team history.
"This is huge. We've been talking for a long time about 'Who are we? How we are going to play?' Sears said. "That's who we are. We scored in the first half which doesn't happen very often. We defended. We had some great chances. This is what we've been waiting for - for us to put it together."
Hope's 11 points this season in MIAA play trail Adrian by one point and Kalamazoo by two.
The Flying Dutch have played one fewer league match than Kalamazoo the same number as Adrian.
Hope's next match is Wednesday, October 23 at 7 p.m. at Albion College.