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Calvin Sports News
  April Phelps makes defensive adjustment
By Lynn Bolt Rosendale
 

Surprisingly in the sport with the shortest history at Calvin, tradition is already playing a key role in the success of the program. In existence for only 11 seasons as an official varsity sport, women's soccer has had an incredible amount of success. In fact, it is this success that continually motivates the team, said junior April Phelps, of Holland, Mich.

"We take upholding that reputation pretty seriously," said Phelps. "We have a lot of fun together, but when we're out on the field everyone is very focused."

The team has posted an 84-19-3 record in the MIAA with a .807 winning percentage. They have three MIAA championships and three bids to the national tournament with six runner-up finishes and two thirds.

This year the team placed second in the MIAA to traditional conference powerhouse Kalamazoo. "We were really very happy with that since we were a young team," said Phelps. "We lost seven seniors from last year's team and we weren't sure about how things were going to go."

Things just "clicked" though, according to Phelps. "We did so much better than I ever expected."

Phelps, named All-MIAA first team, was one of the defensive leaders on the team. She contributed to six shutouts on the season for the Knights. While defense is not where Phelps expected to be at Calvin, she has learned to adjust to her position.

"I never played defense before I came to Calvin," she said. Phelps was a starting forward on the Holland Christian team that twice advanced to the Michigan state semifinals. "It was frustrating for me at first not to be a part of the scoring," she said. "I had to learn a whole new mentality."

"April plays with great heart," said Coach Deb Bakker. "When she joined the team, there were no openings on offense so she adjusted well to defense. As a defender she also has very good ball control. She can possess the ball and take it down the field."

Phelps said that defensively the success is based on verbal communication. "We have to call out our switches and our marks," she said, "and listen to the goalie, who is the director of the defense."

Playing defense hasn't taken Phelps totally out of scoring possibility though. She tallied one goal and one assist this year and was able to get off 30 shots on goal.

Phelps hopes to possibly even improve on that next year by working on her shot during the off-season.

"I think we can be really good next year," she said. "We really work well as a team," she said.

At Calvin, Phelps is majoring in psychology with the hope of becoming a high school counselor. "Coaching is definitely a possibility in the future," she said. Currently, Phelps serves as the assistant varsity coach at Forest Hills Central High School. "I enjoy working with kids so I will have to see where that leads me."

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