By Jeff VanderPloeg
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Calvin hosted Albion College in women's soccer Saturday as the Knights looked to upset the Britons. Albion came in at 4-1-1 in the conference while Calvin stood at 1-3-2. Calvin's pressure provided two second half goals and the 2-0 win over the visiting Britons.
With the win, Calvin clinches a spot in the upcoming MIAA Tournament. The Knights are cemented in the No. 6 spot for the league tournament and will travel to the yet to be determined No. 3 seed on November 2 for a first-round game. Prior to that, the Knights will host Olivet Tuesday in their regular season finale at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, the first half began under cloudy skies with both sides evenly matched. Freshman Emma Thompson (Whitehall, Mich./Whitehall HS) had a couple of shots early for the Knights as Calvin controlled the run of play. Calvin had a few more chances throughout the half, but none were able to find the net. The Knights produced five corners while the Britons produced none. Albion was able to generate a few shots in the first half, but junior goalkeeper Amy Kliewer (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Northern HS) had no problems saving those shots.
The rain began to fall in the second half and the game was deadlocked, neither team generating enough possession to create a significant chance. The Knights were able to establish control of the game in the 50th minute, getting shots from freshman Anna Reimink (Winona Lake, Ind./Lakeland Christian Academy) and junior Maria VanderLei (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS). Calvin kept the pressure on the Britons and it eventually paid off with a mistake.
Freshman goalkeeper Haley Demers mishandled a cross from junior Abby Koops (Saugatuck, Mich./Holland Christian HS) and the ball fell to the feet of junior Jessie Paulson (Plymouth, Mich./Plymouth Christian HS). Paulson controlled the rebound and tucked a shot just inside the right post for Calvin's first goal of the game. Koops got the assist on what was Paulson's seventh goal of the year.
The Knights kept up the pressure, not allowing the Britons to have prolonged possession on Calvin's half of the field. Freshman Kayla Beebe (Kalamazoo, Mich./Kalamazoo Christian HS) and sophomore Izzy Redfield (Cedar Springs, Mich./Northpointe Christian HS) both had shots saved by Demers around the 75th minute, each of them presenting a dangerous opportunity.
Calvin broke through again to increase the lead in the 82nd minute. Thompson scrapped to control a cross in the box and she bounced the ball right to Reimink. Reimink, with plenty of space, poured a shot into the upper right corner for the goal. The goal was Reimink's third of the year and Thompson was credited with the assist.
Calvin's defense, led by Karly Babcock, held strong at the end, only giving up one shot after the second goal. Kliewer made the save on that shot, and Calvin cruised to the 2-0 victory.
Calvin dominated statistically, outshooting the Britons 19-6 and winning nine corners compared to the Britons' zero. Kliewer saved all three shots on goal, recording the Knights' sixth shutout of the year. Beebe and Reimink led with four shots apiece, while Paulson chipped in three. Albion was led by Rayna Edwards with two shots.
COACHES COMMENT: "I was very pleased with our performance today," Calvin head coach Emily Ottenhof said. "I thought we competed hard and stuck to the plan we had put in place. Albion is a tough team and it was great for us to come out with three points today."
UP NEXT: The final regular season game for Calvin Women's Soccer will also be the final home game, as the Knights will host Olivet next Tuesday, October 29, at 7:00 PM.