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Dynamic duo lead women's soccer team to MIAA title
By Annalise Venhuizen
Sarah Weesies
Sarah Weesies

On the top of Calvin's career lists for goals, assists and points—and leading an MIAA Championship team to the NCAA Division III Tournament this past season—is a pair of women's soccer players who connect on and off the field.

Even before their first practice together freshman year, juniors Jill Capel (Hudsonville, Mich.) and Sarah Weesies (Kalamazoo, Mich.) became friends. "We met in the apartments the first day we came to school," Weesies said. "We were friends right away."

It took a little longer to learn to play together—the whole freshman year, according to Weesies. But in three years of being teammates, Weesies and Capel have become the soccer team's dynamic duo, dishing out assists to each other in synchronized fashion. "We just know when to work off each other," Capel said. ("We can read each other's eyes during a play," Weesies added.) "Or we just scream," Capel continued. Whatever they do, it works.

The duo led the soccer team to a single-season record of 88 goals. Twenty-one of those goals came from Capel and 20 were Weesies'. Capel added 13 assists for a team-leading 55 points, while Weesies gave out 12 assists for 52 points.

A forward, Weesies is fifth on all of Calvin's career lists with 56 goals, 34 assists and 146 points. Capel, who plays midfield, stands third on the career list for goals (60), fourth in assists (36) and third on the Calvin career list for points (157).

In addition, Capel was named the MIAA's Most Valuable Player, an honor Weesies received her freshman year. Both athletes earned a spot on the MIAA first team for the third straight year, and for the first time in her career, Capel was named to the Division III Great Lakes All-Region third team. As a team, Calvin posted a 16-3-2 season record, with a 15-1-0 MIAA record; the only conference loss coming in the second Hope game. The record gave Calvin the MIAA Championship and a bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Jill Capel
Jill Capel

Though Calvin lost the first tournament game on penalty kicks, the loss only heightened the team's desire to play hard again next year. "We showed that we can compete at that level and that we had the ability to come back," Capel said.

"Now that we have a taste of it and made a statement at nationals, we want to build from that and have the same expectations for next season," Weesies added.

Looking toward next season, both have high goals. "We need the same commitment and hard work through the offseason," Capel said.

With the bulk of the team returning for another season and with the Capel-Weesies duet, Calvin has reason to expect great things.

It seems the two have commonalities off the field: having similar majors and living in the same house with another teammate, junior Leah Scholten. Weesies is pursuing a major in exercise science with hopes of becoming a strength and conditioning trainer for athletes, while Capel is a K-12 physical education major.

All this time together has produced only one disagreement over the years. Both wore No. 5 jerseys in high school, but only one of them could be No. 5 at Calvin. The problem was easily solved, however, when Weesies graciously took on No. 12, her basketball number from high school. That willingness to unselfishly give-and-take makes great friends—and great teammates.