Last weekend the 18thranked women’s soccer team played two games in the NCAA Div. III Tournament, fighting to win and keep their season alive. On Friday, they played against Bridgewater College (VA) in the opening game, winning 1-0 for their 12th shutout of the season. Senior Rylie Dalton, MIAA Most Valuable Player, had her third assist of the season to sophomore Corinne Cole, who got the one goal of the game.
Head coach Leigh Sears commented on the team’s wide range of scorers: “Historically, we’ve had a dominant scorer, but right now we’re spread out. We never know where it’s coming from and when it’s coming, so to get it in the first half was really big for us.” Yet she contributes the win to the team’s defense: “We knew they were going to be small. We knew they were going to be fast. We knew they were going to be dangerous. I think our defense played extraordinary today.” The Flying Dutch followed the Friday night win with a huge victory on Saturday against Otterbein University in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
With two goals scored in the first half, the team won the game 2-1, advancing to the round of 16 for the first time in the team’s history. Dalton again played a key role in scoring goals during the game, shooting the two first-half goals to keep Hope in the lead. “Two goals in the first half is a big deal for us, Sears commented. “We said at halftime Otterbein is a team that doesn’t stop. They keep coming from behind. We knew they were going to fight to the end.” The team stood strong against Otterbein, yielding only one goal to them despite the opponent’s efforts. The Flying Dutch have not let any team score more than one goal on them all season, with sophomore goalie Jordanne Ellingboe racking in five saves over the game. “It took a team effort on defense,” senior Eliza Beird commented. “I can’t ask for anything better.”
After the game, Dalton spoke on the team she loves: “This is what we’ve been working toward this whole year. I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else. Our team is a family. We have fun, then we come to compete.” The Flying Dutch will play 17th-ranked Christopher Newport University (19-1) on Friday, the winner playing on Saturday in the round of eight. The winners of the Saturday game will get a chance to play in Football ends strong the national championship.