GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Calvin men's soccer team claimed a 2-0 victory over rival Hope College (2-4-0, 1-1-0 MIAA) in its first game under the lights at Zuidema Field on Saturday night.
"It's unbelievable," Calvin head men's soccer coach Ryan Souders remarked about the Knights' first game playing under the lights. "For us, that's a game changer. It makes a fun atmosphere for our students, a great atmosphere for our players and, as a coach, something I really love being a part of. A huge thanks to our donors. It's a game-changer for our program."
Sophomore Bobby McCaw (Dubuque, Iowa/Hempstead) scored both the Knights' goals, the first in the first five minutes of play and the second in the final five minutes of play.
Both teams notched wins in their MIAA openers on Wednesday. Calvin defeated Trine 3-0 on the road while Hope earned a 1-0 double-overtime win over Kalamazoo.
The Knights remain perfect on the year, improving to 6-0-0 overall and 2-0-0 in the MIAA. Saturday night's contest marks the 102nd meeting between the two rivals. Calvin leads the all-time series 58-34-11.
"I thought Hope was phenomenal tonight. They took us out of our game plan a little bit, especially at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half," said Souders. "That was Hope-Calvin. That's what you want, whether it's men's soccer, volleyball, men's or women's basketball, anything. It's a rivalry game. You can't keep a program like that down long. A lot of emotion comes out of this, but that's a much-improved soccer team and we're going to see them at least once more."
"It was tight game – 1-0 for the majority of the game. I feel like we competed for the first time in two years against Calvin," said head Hope men's soccer coach Steven Smith. "We had opportunities to go at them a little more and threaten their goal. The last couple years we haven't been able to break down that team in any third of the field. I'm very pleased with the way that my team played. I thought they played with a lot of heart."
The Knights' offense got off to a strong start, recording two shots within the first five minutes of play. Calvin continued to pressure and struck first as McCaw capitalized on the Knights third corner kick of the contest, finding the back of the net in the fifth minute off a ball by sophomore Hunter Olson (Canton, Mich./Canton).
In the 23rd minute, Hope's Holden Dippel had a scoring chance in the box, but was denied by senior goalkeeper Nate Van Ryn (Grandville, Mich./Calvin Christian).
Freshman Shaeffer Smith (Columbus, Ohio/ Worthington Christian) recorded one final shot on goal before the half concluded, and the Knights headed into the break with a 1-0 advantage.
The Knights held a 9-2 shots advantage at halftime.
The Flying Dutchmen were eager to even the score coming out of the break. Hope found the back of the net in the 50th minute, but the goal was called off as the Dutchmen were called offsides.
Minutes later, the Knights' offense responded with back-to-back shots by McCaw and junior Jacob Witte (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian). Senior Francisco Jay Noyola (East Lansing, Mich./Lansing Christian) and McCaw fired another pair of shots in the 55th minute, but both were turned away by the Dutchmen.
In the 70th minute, Hope nearly tied the score, but failed to capitalize on a scrum in front of Calvin's net. Van Ryn came up with a crucial save on a header shot by Hope's Isaac Braak.
After back-and-forth play, sophomore Dillon Weldy (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) threaded the needle, finding McCaw breaking through the middle. McCaw fired a shot inside the left post to seal the victory for the Knights.
The Knights outshot the Dutchmen 19-6 on the night, including eight shots on goal. McCaw led all players with six shots. Hope's Christian Dault led the Dutchmen with two shots.
Calvin goalkeeper Van Ryn earned his fourth shutout of the season, making a pair of saves in the win over the Dutchmen. Hope goalkeeper Stephen Wilbur recorded six saves in the loss.
"I thought our defense was great – bend but don't break," said Souders. "Hope came with a lot of fire power and a lot of athleticism. Massive credit to our back four and Nate for bending, and ultimately, not breaking."
The Knights are back in action on Tuesday when they host Adrian College (3-2-0, 2-0 MIAA). The battle for sole possession of first place in the conference will begin at 7 p.m.
"No easy games in conference. Everyone's gunning for everyone," said Souders. "Coach Edwards has done a phenomenal job building that program up over the past four years. It'll be another battle, and we're excited to be here Tuesday night."