The Hope College men’s soccer team is a healthier and older group heading into the 2017 season.

Head coach Steven Smith is counting on a full and more experienced lineup to lead the Flying Dutchmen to more success.

“We seem to be much healthier this year. We’re not starting any freshmen for the first time in three years,” said Smith, who’s in his 28th season at Hope College. “We bring more experience out on the field, even though it is going to be sophomores and juniors. They played a lot of minutes last season, and we’re hoping that will play off.”

The bulk of the Flying Dutchmen’s 27-player roster of juniors and sophomores. There is just one senior: co-captain and midfielder David White of Vernon Hills, Illinois (Vernon Hills HS). Hope has 12 juniors, 10 sophomores and four freshmen.

Hope’s other two co-captains are junior defender Stephen Binnig of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (North Allegheny) and junior midfielder Ryan Woodside of Bloomington, Illinois (Normal Community).

“The experience helps in that you can respond to pressure in a different way. I think being older makes them a little more physically strong,” Smith said. “All of that should help us significantly.”

The Flying Dutchmen are aiming to improve after finishing last season with a 6-12-1 overall record.

The three captains provide strong leadership for Hope in their own ways, Smith said.

“David was captain last year and brings the experience of doing that already. He’s doing a nice job balancing the amount of work he puts in with raising the whole team up with his incredible training ethic,” Smith said. “Stephen brings a strong communication style. He’s honest. He leads by example as a really good center back. Ryan is a quiet, introspected captain. He doesn’t say a lot, but when something needs to be said, everyone is listening.”

Hope kicks off the 2017 season on Friday-Saturday, September 1-2 with its annual Cal Bergsma Memorial Tournament at Van Andel Soccer Stadium.

The Bergsma Memorial Tournament honors the memory of Dr. Calvin Bergsma who died tragically in a car accident during the summer of 2001.

A 1967 graduate of Calvin College, Dr. Bergsma was a West Michigan urologist who was known as a kind-hearted man who cared deeply for everyone. Dr. Bergsma was particularly close to his friends at both Calvin College and Hope College. He had family ties to both institutions as his wife Gwen (1968) and son Corwyn (1996) are Calvin graduates, while his son Clayton is a 2000 graduate of Hope College. Clayton was a four-year member of the Hope men's soccer team while Corwyn was a four-year member of the Calvin men's basketball program.

“The Bergsma family means a lot to us,” Smith said. “Cal used to travel while his son was playing for us. He became a friend to the program.””