HOLLAND - The Hope College soccer teams launch their respective seasons this coming weekend.  Both Hope teams are defending champions of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA).

            The Flying Dutchmen will co-host with Calvin the Bergsma Memorial Invitational.  Hope will host Muskingum, Ohio on Saturday, Sept. 2 (2 p.m.) and Goshen, Ind. on Monday, Sept. 4 (4 p.m.).  Calvin will entertain Muskingum on Friday and Goshen on Saturday.

            The Flying Dutch will travel to Bloomington, Ill. for a pair of games,  playing host Illinois Wesleyan on Friday, Sept. 1 (7:30 p.m.) and Elmhurst, Ill. on Saturday, Sept. 2 (5 p.m.).  The home opener for the Flying Dutch will be Saturday, Sept. 9 against Ohio Wesleyan.

Flying Dutchmen Pre-Season Outlook

The defending MIAA champion Flying Dutchmen will be seeking to continue what is becoming the most successful decade of Hope College soccer. Through five seasons of the new millennium the Flying Dutchmen have won 80% of their games (90-24-7) with three conference championships and a like number of appearances in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

The team's MIAA championship 2005 season included a school-record 15-game winning streak and 17-4 overall mark. The team was ranked in the top 25 of the Division III poll of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

The Flying Dutchmen graduated their top three scorers from a team that outscored opponents 63-16 and posted 10 shutouts. The 2006 team could return 18 letterwinners. The pre-season roster of returnees includes six sophomores, five juniors and seven seniors.

Coach Steven Smith begins his 17th season at the helm of the Flying Dutchmen. Averaging 13 victories a season (224-74-11), coach Smith ranks 17th nationally among all active NCAA Division III coaches by winning percentage. He also ranks in the top twenty among the winningest all-time Division III coaches by percentage (19th).

Tri-captains of the team will be seniors Jeff Carlson of Holland, Mich. (Holland HS), Patrick McMahon of Grand Rapids, Mich. (Forest Hills Central HS), and Craig Root of Holland, Mich. (Holland HS).

The Flying Dutchmen return two players who achieved All-MIAA first team recognition in 2005 -- senior back Patrick McMahon and junior midfielder Dan Tresslar of Bloomington, Ind. (Bloomington South HS). Tresslar was also named to the All-Region team. Returning players who received team honors in 2005 include senior Craig Root, most inspirational player, and junior Ryan Robleske, a sophomore from Kentwood, Mich. (East Kentwood HS), most improved player.

Flying Dutch Pre-Season Outlook

A changed conference schedule format will send the 2006 Flying Dutch against an increased number of non-league opponents. The home-and-away format with MIAA opponents has been changed to a single round robin. It means the regular season games will be evenly divided with eight non-league and eight MIAA games. A season-ending tournament will determine the MIAA qualifier to the NCAA championships.

The defending MIAA co-champion Flying Dutch will be bidding for a fourth consecutive conference crown. The 2005 Flying Dutch won a school-record 18 games and enter the fall with an 11-game regular season winning streak.

Coach Leigh Sears begins her sixth season at the helm of the Flying Dutch. She will build this year's team around 15 returning letterwinners. The pre-season roster includes five seniors, five juniors, seven sophomores and six freshman prospects.

Captains of the team will be junior Sarah Cochrane of Watertown, Wisc. (Watertown HS), senior Holly Nestle of Mason, Mich. (Mason HS), senior Rachael Sauerman of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville North HS), and junior Ellie Tresslar of Bloomington, Ind. (Bloomington HS).

Five returning players received All-MIAA honors in 2005. Holly Nestle (goalkeeper), Rachael Sauerman (defender) and Ellie Tresslar (midfielder) were first team honorees. Nestle and Sauerman were honored for a third consecutive year. Named to the second All-MIAA team were Sarah Cochrane (forward) and Alison Van Beek (midfielder) of Libertyville, Ill. (Libertyville, Ill.).

Nestle, Sauerman and Tresslar were name to the All-Region team. Nestle was credited with 15 shutouts. She has 38 career shutouts. Tresslar ranked among the top Division III players in assists with a school-record 13. Sauerman keyed a defense that yielded only seven goals over 21 games.

Other returning letterwinners include senior Kendall Aliber of Birmingham, Mich. (Marian HS), junior Lindsey Cole of Holland, Mich. (West Ottawa HS), senior Erin Dargis of Geneva, Ill. (Geneva Community HS), junior Julia Fischer of Laingsburg, Mich. (Laingsburg HS), sophomore Sonya Masghati of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville Central HS), senior Ashleigh McNeil of DeWitt, Mich. (DeWitt HS), sophomore Ellen Molenaar of Portage, Mich. (Portage Central HS), sophomore Kelly Schaefer of Fenton, Mich. (Linden HS), sophomore Sarah Sosolik of Oswego, Ill. (Oswego HS), and sophomore Cassie Thomas of Glen Gardner, N.J. (Voorhees HS).

Returning players receiving 2005 team honors include Holly Nestle, most valuable player; Rachael Sauerman, most valuable defensive player; Ellie Tresslar, most valuable offensive player; Sarah Sosolik, most improved player and Alison Van Beek, rookie of the year.