Men’s Soccer Captures MIAA Title With 1-0 Victory Over Hope
Saturday, November 07, 2009
(written by sports information student assistant Derek Neice)
GRAND RAPIDS—In what could be called the game of the year so far for Calvin Saturday afternoon at Grand Rapids Christian High School, the Knights added another chapter in their rivalry with Hope by defeating the Flying Dutch 1-0, capturing their third straight MIAA title and obtaining an automatic bid to the national tournament.
A match that certainly held a lot of emotion on both sides, Saturday’s contest would prove to be sweet for the Knights after having lost a heartbreaker to Hope by the same score earlier this season at Hope’s Van Andel Soccer Stadium.
Besides the lone goal, a first half strike by junior forward Brad Heethuis (Jenison, MI), the story of the game was in Calvin goalkeeper Ryan Bratt (Silver Spring, MD). Bratt, a 6-foot-6 junior, got his first-ever start in goal Saturday due to lingering injuries to Jared Rushlau (Grandville, MI) and Michael Dolan (Casco, MI).
Bratt finished the match with a stellar performance, making five huge saves over the course of the game that kept Hope from equalizing.
“Bratt was a beast.” Calvin coach Chris Hughes said emphatically after the game, “the guys rallied around him, before the game they were excited that he was in the net, and he [Bratt] did what he needed to do. I was very happy with his play today.
Calvin came out strong and finished strong, out-shooting Hope 19-10 overall with the Dutch having the shots-on-goal advantage, 5-4. Heethuis knocked in the only goal of the game in the seventh minute of play, his fourth and most important goal of the season.
The goal resulted from an early Calvin corner kick. Junior midfielder Dan Kmetz (Strongsville, OH) looped the ball to the far side of the box off the corner kick, where fellow junior Kyle Billin controlled and sent in a quick pass on the ground, past a couple Hope defenders and across the middle of the box. Heethuis was first onto the scene, shooting the ball past the Hope keeper and giving Calvin the lead. Kmetz and Billin were attributed the double assist.
“I just wanted to get a shot on the net and give it a chance to go in,” Heethuis explained about how he approached the ball to shoot, “Kyle [Billin] played a great ball across and I was just looking to get a good shot.”
Hope would rally with a string of chances in the second half to keep everyone on their toes, but to no avail, as Calvin’s defense once again proved its metal in preserving the shutout victory.
“They are just rock solid,” Bratt said of Calvin’s defense, “It adds a lot to my confidence for sure in having guys like Snapper and Wilgenburg stopping almost everything that comes through, and they played great today.”
“We are all just absolutely ecstatic now with this win,” Bratt concluded, “It’s a great feeling.”
With the win Calvin will now play in the NCAA Division III national tournament, something that Hughes said he won’t even start thinking about right now. For the moment, he’s going to relish Saturday’s victory.
“I’m very proud of these kids in being able to pull through today,” Hughes continued, “Hope has a fantastic program with some true warriors, so tons of kudos to the effort they put in today.”
“We always thought this could be ours but we had to prove it,” Hughes said, “and we were able to put one more ball in their net than they put in ours.”