Formed around a nucleus of returning letterwinners, the Flying Dutch are in a good position to be a title challenger in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association this fall.

Coach Leigh Sears' will build the team around 19 letterwinners from a team that tied for third place in the MIAA last fall and posted an overall 10-8-1 record.

Coach Sears begins her eighth season at the helm of Hope women's soccer. Over seven seasons she had guided the Flying Dutch to two conference championships while posting a 74-52-9 overall record.

The pre-season roster of 40 players includes 19 freshmen, 12 sophomores, one junior and eight seniors.

Tri-captains of the team are junior Kirsten Kaufmann of Clio, Mich. (Flint Powers HS), senior Sonya Masghati of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville Central HS), and senior Ellen Molenaar of Portage, Mich. (Portage Central HS).

Sophomore Courtney Cook of Grand Rapids (Forest Hills Central HS) and senior Allison Van Beek of Libertyville, Ill. (Libertyville HS) were named to the All-MIAA first team in 2007. Van Beek is a three-time All-MIAA honoree, twice as a first teamer (2006 and 2077) and once on the second team (2005). Cook was named the MIAA defensive player of the week twice in 2007. Ellen Molenaar was an All-MIAA second team honoree in 2006.

The Flying Dutch return the three goalkeepers who in 2007 allowed just 26 goals over 19 games while gaining five shutouts - senior Kelly Schaefer of Fenton, Mich. (Linden HS), sophomore Kelsey Bos of Holland, Mich. (Holland HS) and sophomore Kirsten Bonzelaar of Holland, Mich. (Holland Christian HS).

Other senior returning letterwinners are Kimmy Gordon of Caledonia (South Christian HS), Suzi Knowles of North Folk, Calif. (Ysemite HS), Sarah Sosolik of Oswego, Mich. (Oswego HS), and Cassie Thomas of Glen Gardner, N.J. (Voorhees HS).

Other returning letterwinners include sophomore Emily Baracy of Canton, Mich. (Canton HS), sophomore Mallory Fox of Livonia, Mich. (Livonia Stevenson HS), sophomore Bethany Kicz of Ada, Mich. (Forest Hills Central HS), sophomore Katie Lovinger of Hillsdale, Mich. (Hillsdale HS), sophomore Kara Marsman of Holland, Mich. (Holland Christian HS), sophomore Lauren Miller of San Diego, Calif. (University City HS), sophomore Kristen Schwenk of Midland, Mich. (HH Dow HS), and junior Emily Wade of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (Seaholm HS).

The 2007 Flying Dutch were named to the MIAA Team GPA Honor Roll for the third consecutive year. Nine returning players named to the 07-08 MIAA Academic Honor Roll were Kelsey Bos, Suzi Knowles, Katie Lovinger, Sonya Masghati, Lauren Miller, Ellen Molenaar, Kristen Schwenk, Sarah Soslik and Cassie Thomas.

The season's first 10 games will be against non-league opponents followed by eight contests with MIAA teams and the conference tournament.