By Gina de Haan
On Saturday afternoon, the Calvin men's soccer team welcomed the Alma Scots to Zuidema field for a matchup between the top two teams in the MIAA standings. With three regular season conference games remaining, the Knights possessed an eight-point lead over the Scots, with a chance to claim the MIAA regular season crown outright.
Calvin had captured the first meeting of the year against Alma, earning a 2-0 victory at Alma's Scotland Yard on September 27.
The Knights claimed their fourth consecutive victory, shutting out the Scots 5-0 to claim the MIAA regular season title and the top seed in the conference tournament. This season marks the tenth consecutive year that the Knights have claimed the regular season conference crown, the longest streak in MIAA men's soccer history.
The Knights took an early lead and never looked back.
In the 16th minute, Alma's Sam Farlardeau was called for a hand ball in the box, and the Knights were awarded a penalty kick. Calvin senior Stephan Hooker converted on opportunity to earn his seventh goal of the season and give the Knights a 1-0 lead.
In the final minutes of the first half, freshman Jacob Lyon saw a chance to further the Knights' lead to three goals, but his shot hit the crossbar and bounced out in front of the goal line.
The Knights would hold onto their two-goal lead heading into the halftime break, also possessing a 9-5 shots advantage over the Scots.
In the second half, Calvin continued to build on its lead, pulling away from the Scots. In the 55th minute, Jacob Witte scored a header goal off a nice chip into the box by Stephan Hooker. Minutes later, Bobby McCaw would make the score 4-0 in favor of the Knights, tapping in a ball off a pass from Witte.
In the 61st minute, the Scots found the back of the net, but the goal was waved off as offsides was called on the play.
Witte capped of the scoring, adding another goal in the 65th minute, sending a shot to the far post, past Alma goalkeeper Nick Strait.
Final shots were 21-7 in favor of the Calvin. Calvin goalkeeper Nate Van Ryn posted five saves in the shutout victory.
"It was a good game for our team. Alma is a very good team," said Calvin men's soccer coach Ryan Souders. "Getting the lead early was a key. Our team was very comfortable playing with the lead and it helped open the field up. I was happy with the way we capitalized on our chances and finished today. We will need to continue to finish our chances in our games coming up."
Souders also commented on Calvin's 10th straight league title – marking a decade of dominance in the league. "The start of this championship streak certainly predates me and it predates this team," said Souders who has been a part of five of the 10 league titles. "I think it speaks to institutional excellence and to many wonderful young men who have been a part of this championship run and have chosen to come to Calvin for the right reasons. Faith reasons, academic reasons and the chance to play high level soccer at a wonderful liberal arts institution."