Women’s soccer continues winning ways

Photo courtesy www.calvin.edu

Photo courtesy www.calvin.edu

The Calvin women’s soccer team extended its winning streak to four games with wins over Olivet, Saint Mary’s and Adrian this past week. The Knights are now 5-1 in conference play and 6-2 overall, moving them into second place in the MIAA.

The Knights visited winless Olivet this past Tuesday, hoping to notch an easy win. Calvin dominated possession and outplayed the Comets, but was unable to score in the first half.

Calvin sophomore Paige Capel finally broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute with her third goal of the season, a tap in from close range. The goal, assisted by freshman Taylor Ten Harmsel, was all the Knights needed to avoid the upset as they held on for the 1-0 victory.

The Knights outshot Olivet 22-6 with junior goalkeeper Ashton Hearn picking up the shutout.

The team would have to quickly refocus for a match against the Saint Mary’s Belles on Thursday, Sept. 27.

The visiting Knights turned in another solid performance, outshooting the Belles 18-5 over 90 minutes, but neither team was able to capitalize on their chances, ending regular time 0-0.

Only two minutes into the sudden-death overtime period, junior Heidi Scholten collected the ball in the box and slid it to junior Danielle Carter, whose first goal of the season sealed the win for the Knights.

Saturday, Sept. 29 the Knights hosted Adrian College at Zuidema Field with a chance to take the move up the MIAA standings with a win.

Calvin started strong, holding well on defense and moving the ball quickly.

“We knew it was a big game. We had to play composed, play fast, and in the first half we really set the tone,” said senior Francesca Smith.

The Knights worked the ball well on offense and had 6 corner kicks in the first half. Those corner kicks proved vital 10 minutes in when freshman Sidney Kinney sent the ball to Capel for a clean header and a 1-0 lead.

A second corner kick, this time delivered by junior Kelly Koets, fell near the back post. The ensuing scramble ended with the ball in Adrian’s net as Carter found an opening through the defense and netted her second goal of the season.

Head coach Mark Recker was pleased with the special teams play.

“We have focused on production out of corner kicks,” he said.

Adrian was unable to muster any legitimate scoring opportunities in the first half, and Calvin continued to play effectively through the midfield.

In the 38th minute, a skillfully-placed pass by freshman Jamie Verbal just cleared the Adrian defense and found freshman Abigail Ploeg all alone in the box. Ploeg confidently slotted the ball in the bottom left corner leading the Knights to a 3-0 lead at the half.

Recker commented on the importance of Ploeg’s goal.

“Those finishes are key. The confidence that flows out of that carries throughout the game,” he said.

Adrian came out quickly in the second half with last year’s MIAA MVP, Sam Barker, leading the charge. Barker struck a ball off the crossbar early in the second half and minutes later connected with Erin Weide for Adrian’s first goal of the afternoon.

However, the Knights remained composed and shut down Adrian’s attack for the rest of the match, securing the 3-1 victory.
“This was an important game for us,” said Capel. “We went in expecting a super tough game.”

Calvin’s special teams were especially productive in the match, with two goals on corner kicks.

“We have been practicing our corners and practice is paying off,” said Capel.

Recker concurred, “There is a certain mentality you have to have on corner kicks, defensively and offensively. You really gotta hunt the ball and work yourself into position. If people are in position, corners will be an avenue of production this year.”

The win moves the Knights to second in MIAA, one point behind Alma, and puts their current win streak at four games, a 7-3 overall record. Recker was pleased with the team’s progress.

“It’s an overall comfort with the product,” he said referring to his team’s play, “and that confidence is coming, but this product has the capacity to compete with the best teams in this league,” he said.

The win streak will be put on the line Wednesday night with the Knights traveling to rival Hope College.