WESTERVILLE, Ohio - Hope College scored late in the first half Friday night and that one goal turned out to be enough as the Flying Dutch defeated Bridgewater College, 1-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III women's soccer tournament hosted by Otterbein University.
Defenses dominated for most of the first half, but the Flying Dutch, ranked No. 17 in the nation, put late pressure on the Eagles and finally found the back of the net. With 5:30 left in the half, Hope midfielder Rylie Dalton, the Most Valuable Player in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, possessed the ball deep in the box, turned and got off a strong shot but Eagles' keeper Sydney Davis was in position for the save.
Less than a minute later Dalton was back at work again with another shot on frame, but once again Davis made another save. This time however, the rebound fell right to Corinne Cole and the Hope sophomore sent her shot low to the right post and past Davis for a 1-0 lead at the 40:34 mark of the first half.
Bridgewater also had two corner kick chances in the first half. The first was played in low and cleared away by a Hope defender at the near post. The second corner was played into the box by Kratz, but Hanna Randolph's header sailed high and over the crossbar.
Bridgewater kept it a one-goal game by limiting the Flying Dutch to just one shot on goal in the final 45 minutes, but the Eagles were unable to mount any offense against a strong Hope defense that had allowed just seven goals all season coming into the NCAA tournament.
The Eagles had a good opportunity with 21 minutes remaining when a free kick dropped in a crowd right in front of the 6-yard box, but the Eagles were called for a foul on the play.
Despite the loss, the 2018-19 season was a season of firsts for the program.
Bridgewater was ranked for the first time in program history in the Division III Top 25, peaking at No. 18 in the poll. The Eagles also earned the No. 1 seed for the ODAC tournament and hosted the semifinals and title game for the first time. Friday night's contest against Hope was Bridgewater's first-ever NCAA tournament game.
The Eagles finished the season with a 15-4-2 overall record.