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Women’s Soccer Team Preparing for 2008 Season

Friday, August 22, 2008

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A challenging schedule will face the 2008 Calvin women’s soccer team which will be bidding for its fourth consecutive MIAA title.

Prior to opening its MIAA campaign on September 27 at rival Hope, the Knights will face defending national champion Wheaton (IL) and national powers Washington University (MO) and the University of Chicago as well as strong regional foes in Ohio Northern and Transylvania. In addition, the Knights will face a strong NAIA opponent in cross-town rival Aquinas and a strong team from New York state in Farmindale State University. Sprinkled inside of Calvin’s conference slate will be games against regional stalwart Kenyon College and NAIA juggernaut Madonna.

Wheaton (IL) finished the 2007 ranked number-one in the final NSCAA Division III Top-25 poll with Washington (MO) ranked ninth and Chicago 24th.  Transylvania and Ohio Northern both reached the finals of their respective conference tournaments while

“Our immediate goal is always to compete at a high level and win our conference championship,” said Calvin women’s soccer coach Mark Recker this summer. “In order to compete at a high level, I feel it is important to play strong competition and I think our non-conference schedule will allow us to do just that.”

Calvin captured the 2007 MIAA title by posting an 10-0-1 conference record with the Knights battling Albion to a scoreless draw in the MIAA Tournament Championship final. In the MIAA Tournament final, Albion secured a 3-2 shoot-out victory but Calvin garnered the league title and automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament by virtue of gaining more overall placement points in the final league standings. Calvin then advanced to the NCAA III Tournament for the third straight year, moving past Capital (OH) in a first round shootout win before bowing to host Wittenberg in the second round in a shootout loss.

“Our league was very good last year and I expect more of the same this fall,” said Recker. “Albion gave us everything we could handle in the (MIAA) tournament and they will field a very strong squad this fall again. There are a number of other teams in our league making strong improvements. There really are no easy games on our league schedule anymore.”

Calvin returns five players who received All-MIAA honors last fall headlined by seniors Ashley Bolen and Elizabeth Ribbens and sophomore Carly Prins who were all named to the 2007 All-MIAA first team .

Juniors Emily Ottenhoff and Alyssa Bergsma also return after receiving All-MIAA second team accolades.

Prins and Ribbens led the Calvin offensive attack last year with Prins collecting 11 goals and three assists for 25 points from her midfielder’s position while Ribbens chalked up eight goals, seven assists for 23 points while splitting time between the midfield and striker spots.

A four-year starter at sweeper back, Bolen anchors the Calvin defense. She was credited with a goal and a team-leading 10 assists for 12 points. She was later named to the NSCAA Division III Great Lakes All-region third team.

A two-year starter in the midfield, Ottenhoff had six goals and one assist for 13 points in 2007 while Bergsma posted a 0.86 goals-against-average including 44 saves. Bergsma once again split time in nets with keeper Kayla Sulzer (St. Charles, MO) and will do so again this fall. Sulzer had a 0.89 goals-against-average in 2007 and was credited with 31 saves.

Other returning letterwinners include seniors Juliana Litts (Alexandria, VA), Liz VanRees (Muskegon/Western Michigan Christian HS) and Michelle Koele (Denver, CO/Denver Christian HS); juniors Allison Boender (Wyoming/Calvin Christian HS), Krista Johnson (Cincinnati, OH/Turpin HS) and Natalie Veurink (Spring Lake/Western Michigan Christian HS) and sophomores Lauren Heyboer (Kalamazoo/Kalamazoo Christian HS), Elaine Schnabel (Chesterston, IN/Chesterton HS), Allison Bul (Shelby Twp/Bishop-Foley HS), Stacey Dykstra (Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill West HS), Kellie Honderd (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS), Stephanie Malburg (Grand Rapids/Forest Hills Northern HS) and Mindy Capisciolto (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS).

“We have experience and good leadership,” said Recker. “The key will be whether we can move our play up a notch or two from last year. We had a quality season last fall with a relatively young team. In order to compete at the level we would like, we need to up our level a play and I think we can do that.”

Calvin outscored the opposition 55-20 in 2007 with 10 different players netting game-winning goals. Ottenhoff led Calvin in game-winners with three while Veurink and Capisciolto had two game-winning goals apiece. Other individuals with game-winning goals included Ribbens, Prins, Honderd, Koele, Boender, Schnabel and Bolen.

Our offense last year was very balanced,” said Recker. “One of our offensive strengths was that we had players who could come off the bench and score. We should have that same capability this year.”

On defense, Calvin recorded 13 shutouts including eight shutouts over its final 10 games. In addition to Bolen, Bergsma and Sulzer, the Knights return Litts and Heyboer as starters in the defensive unit. “I think our defense improved as the year progressed,” said Recker. “With the schedule we face, it will be important for our defense to gel quickly and continue the momentum it created at the end of the 2007 season.”

Calvin will open its season on August 29 and 30 at a tournament hosted by Washington University. Calvin’s matches against Aquinas (September 3), Chicago (September 10), Farmingdale State (September 12), Ohio Northern (September 13) and Wheaton (September 17) will all be at home. Calvin’s MIAA opener at Hope on September 27 will then ignite a stretch that will see the Knights play five out of six games on the road.

The MIAA Tournament is scheduled to begin with the first round on November 1 with the semifinals set for November 4 and the championship finals slated for November 8. The MIAA’s automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament will again be earned through a combination of placement points received from the MIAA regular season and MIAA Tournament.

Calvin will look to continue its high academic standing as the Knights posted a cumulative team grade point average of 3.267 during the 2007-08 academic year. Ten players were also named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll as Allison Boender, Krista Johnson, Lauren Heyboer, Michelle Koele, Juliana Litts, Elaine Schnabel, Kayla Sulzer, Abby Vannette, Elizabeth VanRees and Natalie Veurink were all so honored for maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 or above during the 2007-08 academic year. In addition, Litts and Veurink were both named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District third team in 2007.

Posted in: Preview: Women's Soccer
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