Calvin Edges Hope in 1-0 Thriller at Zuidema Field
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
By Chaz Amidon
A recipe for combustion, the league’s top offense collided with the league’s top defense in Grand Rapids on Wednesday.
It wasn’t a shootout, nor was it a stalemate.
Instead, a resilient Calvin defense staved off No. 17 Hope and its lineup of high-octane scorers, using junior Alex McKenzie’s goal in the 14th minute to nab sole possession of first-place in the MIAA with a 1-0 win.
“It was the perfect ingredients for what you saw today – it was a battle,” said senior Darrin Cline. “We leave it on the field for Hope.”
The Knights outshot their lakeshore rivals 18-14 in a contest that mirrored the teams’ first meeting in 2007 – a 1-0 Calvin victory at Zuidema Field (on Sept. 22) that provided Coach Chris Hughes and his squad enough momentum to tear through the rest of the MIAA season with an unbeaten league record of 12-0-1.
But Hope was the team with a streak at stake on Wednesday, bringing a 16-game unbeaten mark (dating back to 2007) against the Knights, winners of their last five.
“It’s a good win, the kids are smiling and that’s what it’s all about,” said Hughes. “The boys came to play today.”
McKenzie, who was integrated into Calvin’s starting lineup this season, headed a cross from senior Michael Holwerda past Dutchmen goalkeeper Andrew Goorhouse just 13:18 into the first half.
Smothered by defenders, Holwerda’s pass whizzed over three Hope defenders and found a cutting McKenzie, who directed the ball to the weak (right) side of the net.
“I just put my hands straight up in the air,” said sophomore Lucas Wilgenburg of the lone strike. “It’s a great feeling and you could see it on everyone’s faces.”
Wilgenberg, senior sweeper Greg Snapper and sophomore Chad Hart anchored the Knights’ backfield, which fended off several second-half attacks from a Hope team controlled possession time after the break. They were the only Calvin starters not to be subbed out.
Except for Cline. Fresh off claiming his second career Defensive Player of the Week Award, the All-MIAA goalkeeper turned in a four-save outing that included a pair of scintillating stops – a lunge to rob Ausable Schwiebert of goal in the first (18:40), and a slide tackle to spoil a Nicco Lamb breakaway in the second (63:30).
“That save he had in the first half, going up in the corner…I was teasing him that sometimes he is a freak of nature,” said Hughes. “I don’t know how he can stop some of the stuff that’s thrown at him, but he does it.”
Cline now has five shutouts this fall, just four less scoreless outings he posted in 2007.
He has 43 saves in the Knights’ 11 games and had a 1.22 goals-against average heading into Wednesday’s win.
“Cline had a slow start to the year but he’s all of a sudden found that confidence again,” said Hughes.
Wednesday’s match-up, the 82nd all-time meeting between the two rivals, buffered Calvin’s record in the series, upping their mark to 44-29-9 against the Dutchmen.
Both teams have combined to win the past five MIAA Championships, with Calvin claiming titles in 2004 and 2007, Hope in 2005 and 2006, and a shared crown between the schools in 2003.
The last time Hope defeated the Knights at Zuidema field was in 2005 – a 2-1 loss in which all the scoring occurred in the opening half.
This time, the Knights found a way to neutralize a Hope squad that racked up 15 goals in its first three conference games, including a blistering 32 goals throughout its opening 10 games.
“We had a great offense pushing us forward and helping us back on defense today,” said Wilgenburg. “It makes it a lot easier.”
Calvin has allowed only two goals in its five MIAA contests, partly due to a backfield comprised of two sophomores (Hart and Wilgenburg) and one senior (Snapper).
“Our back line played well,” said Hughes. “Wilgenburg played out of his mind today – he really dominated his side. Hart did a nice job, and, as always, Snapper is just a stallion back there. They did what they needed to do to slow down that offense.”
The Knights (8-3-0, 5-0-0) will now host Adrian on Saturday (2:00 p.m.) before embarking on a two-game road trip to Trine and Albion.
PHOTO GALLERY: Photo Gallery
AUDIO INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS HUGHES:Chris Hughes Audio Interview
AUDIO INTERVIEW WITH DARRIN CLINE: Darrin Cline Interview