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Knight Defender Aids in Calvin's Run to Elite Eight
By : Lynn Bolt Rosendale

L ast year’s soccer season came to a disappointing end for Tricia DeVries while she was in Florida.  She was hoping this season would end in Florida as well — but for a different reason and with a different result.

Trica DeVries head shotThe Calvin senior defender was in Florida for her brother’s wedding in 2005 while the Knights, who had gotten their first NCAA III tournament berth since 1998, were playing in Ohio.

“I was on the phone the whole time,” DeVries said. “Someone called every time someone would score. It was hard not to be there; we had worked so hard to get there, and it was our goal for so long.”

DeVries was hoping the team would get past the first round, so she could join the team in Ohio for the second round. The Knights, however, lost the game to Ohio Wesleyan in a 6-5 overtime shootout.

A trip to Florida this year for DeVries and teammates would have meant that the Knights had advanced to the national finals, a goal they’d been working toward all year. Unfortunately, Messiah College (Pa.), the defending national champion, ousted the Knights in the sectional final. Tied at 1-1 after double overtime, the game ended in a shootout, which the Knights lost 5-3.

Climbing the polls and ranked in the top five nationally for the better part of the season, the Knights rode a perfect 20-0 record into the first round of the national tournament.

Their success, DeVries believes, was due to leadership by a strong core of seniors, including Jill Capel, Sara Weesies, Noelle Berghuis, Leah Scholten and Laura Rooks. DeVries is also a senior.

The team, led by this capable group, took the season one goal at a time, she said. “We are a very goal-focused team,” she said prior to the national tournament run. “Our first goal was to win the conference; our second was to win the first two rounds of the national tournament; and our amazing goal would be to go to Florida.” A Knights women’s soccer team has never made it past the second round.

Tricia DeVriesAfter tying with Hope for the MIAA championship last year, Calvin posted a perfect record to win the title this year, the first outright championship in women’s soccer for Calvin since 1997.

The Knights then went on to down Kenyon College (Ohio) and Denison University (Ohio) to advance to the sectional final and a shot at the Final Four in Florida.

In the Knights’ final game against Messiah, defense once again played a significant role, as it had all year.

Sparked by DeVries, Calvin allowed just six goals all year, which ranked among the top five nationally in shutout percentage (0.74). The stingy Knight defense also posted a goals-against average of just 0.26.

“It really is a different mentality on defense,” DeVries said. “We have three of us back there; we work as a unit. Our goal as a unit was not to let any goals in.”

The feisty defenders never allowed more than one goal in a single game.

For her efforts, DeVries was named to the All-MIAA first team along with senior teammates Capel and Weesies.

DeVries, an accounting major, also was awarded Academic All-District second team honors from ESPN The Magazine in the college division.

Despite the season-ending loss, DeVries is happy about the opportunity she has had to play soccer at Calvin and the success the team has had over the past few years.

 “You really get the opportunity to build leadership skills and develop community with a team,” she said. “You learn how to be goal-oriented.”