The weather matched the crowd on Saturday as the Dutchmen faced off against Richard Stockton University during the Bergsma Memorial Tournament. It started off clear and sunny with only the slightest breeze, but by the last minute of overtime play, it was tense and dark, with the game nearly postponed due to weather. The energy in the air was not from the weather alone: the two teams were considered to be evenly matched in most regards. That fact rang clear as the game ran into overtime, with each team at one goal apiece. The U.S. flag was lowered ceremoniously for the late John McCain, but the atmosphere was elevated as the referees made tough calls, players made gritty slide tackles, and senior Ryan Woodside, player number 8, was injured. An enormous amount of the game was played with athletes in the air, at one point resulting in a player held in midair on the back of a hunched opponent.
Senior James Reymann, player number 16, was the first to score, which put Hope in the lead during the first period. This tight lead was eliminated by Stockton’s Justin Ruiz, player number 7, during the second period. The newly hired Coach Dave Brandt commented on the player’s grit, saying that Stockton was “definitely a quality opponent, and I thought our guys were on the front foot and dominated from the very start.”
A close save at the last second ensured overtime, which many feared would be delayed due to nearby lightning. The weather held up long enough for Hope junior Logan Bylsma, player number 11, to end the game with a perfect shot in overtime. The game ended with a score of 2-1 to Hope. The Saturday night win came after the season’s opening win on Friday against Manchester College with a final score of 3-0 to Hope. Many credit Hope’s new men’s soccer coach David Brandt for Hope’s high performance.
The new coach has an array of impressive records in the NCAA, as well as experience coaching the United States Naval Academy team. Fans and players seem to look on him with high favor.
Ed Hassenrik, a member of the prayer support team and father of a former Hope soccer player, showed excitement upon his hiring. This was echoed by co-athletic director Melinda Larson, who referred to Brandt as “very talented” and an exceptional addition to the team. Brandt shared words on how he drives the team towards greatness, basing the program on “values and purpose, with a huge emphasis on personal growth and leadership development, as well as team chemistry.” He also encourages the players to find within themselves a “total commitment to excellence and winning,” reminding them that “we are in the fight to build something very special organizationally, and need to get better and build a deeper root system,”expecting” participation in the program to be very literally life impacting.”