by Lenny Padilla
When Abbey Przekop jogged to the bench late in the first half during a substitution, it was to give the Hope College forward a break.
It might have been as much of a relief for visiting Saint Mary's College to see the senior from (Novi, Michigan (Mercy HS) leave the field.
Przekop scored two first-half goals to lead as the Flying Dutch beat Saint Mary's, 3-0, at Van Andel Soccer Stadium on Saturday.
"It's meaningful," Przekop said of the Senior Day win. "But every game is meaningful. We work well as a unit and it was a great outcome for us today."
The Flying Dutch improved to 5-4-6 overall and 4-1-2 in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association standings.
With 14 points, Hope is in fourth place with one regular-season match remaining. The Flying Dutch are two points out of second place after MIAA leader Kalamazoo College lost to Alma College, 1-0, on Saturday.
Hope hosts Alma in the regular-season finale on Tuesday, October 29 at 7 p.m. at Van Andel Soccer Stadium. If the Flying Dutch win, they will earn the MIAA Tournament's No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
On Saturday, the Flying Dutch recognized four seniors during a pre-match ceremony. Przekop was joined on the field by senior midfielder Megan Bigelow of Flushing, Michigan (Flushing), senior forward Sarah McCoy of Stevensville, Michigan (Lake Michigan Catholic) and senior goalie Caroline Serkaian of Okemos, Michigan (Okemos), pictured, from left to right.
Hope has struggled to score goals all season, but it's been even more frustrating for Przekop, who had zero goals all year entering Saturday's game. So it was a relief for the senior when she scored just 3 minutes, 43 seconds into the match.
"It's a great feeling," Przekop said. "I couldn't have done that without my teammates. So when I score, we all score."
Przekop deflected a corner kick from Erin Powers on the left side net to make it 1-0 Hope.
Ten minutes later, Przekop took a centering pass from Sarah McCoy (Stevensville, Mich. / Lake Michigan Catholic) and booted it into the net for a 2-0 lead.
The Flying Dutch had 16 shots on goal and Przekop had half of them.
"She missed a few headers and I thought those could have gone in. She was close," Sears said. "She's struggled a little bit. She moved with purpose today and she was getting herself in (scoring situations). We haven't had that many opportunities for her, so this was a big deal."
Sophomore forward Sarah Mikesell of Norton Shores, Michigan (Mona Shores) scored the final goal late in the game, her second of the season.
"She's been having chances over and over again and she was finally able to put one in," Przekop said of Mikesell. "That was awesome. She deserved that."
Senior goalie Caroline Serkaian of Okemos, Michigan (Okemos HS) made her first start of the season for the Flying Dutch and earned the victory despite not needing to make a save.
"She's been solid her whole time here," Sears said of Serkaian. "Jordanne (Ellingboe) is very athletic, but Serk might be a little bit better organizer and communicator. She's waited her turn. She's worked very hard and she's stayed positive. it's nice for her to get this opportunity."
Sears also praised Bigelow and McCoy.
"Megan Bigelow and Sarah McCoy were our only two original freshmen," Sears said. "They've been with us for four years. Megan has been a mainstay for us in the middle. She got time as a freshman year. From there she's started every year. She's been our workhorse and our leader. She's been a great player.
"Sarah hasn't played as much as she'd wanted to, but she's really solid," Sears said. "She gets in the pockets and serves a really good ball. She knows that speed isn't her gift, but she has really good vision and has the ability to serve a good ball and get other people involved. She had a good ball today at the end of the game where we almost got another goal off of it."